“Love is the sweetest thing that ever grew in a human heart.” /1 Love is the fuel that makes the world go around. Ultimately, it is the essence of joy and happiness.
Used of everything from spouses to sandwiches, the English word “love” is completely inadequate to describe the shades of meaning ascribed to it. These definitions vary from “a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person” to “sexual activity” to “a strong liking for.” /2
The confusion caused by the muddled definitions of love dilutes the understanding we have of the passionate love of our Lord for his children. The Bible is a story of love, beginning with creation and ending with the swinging open of the gates of heaven. John writes that God is the whole of love (1 John 4:8).
In John 13:34, Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (NKJV). Jesus later tells his Apostles, “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:12,13).
This was not the first time that love had been commanded. Instead, it was new because his disciples now had Christ as the model for love. It is new in that it “invokes a new standard: as I have loved you.” /3 Christ’s selfless sacrifice on the cross framed the word “love” in a completely new light.
Love was now the “distinguishing mark of Christians in this new age, the identifying characteristic of true believers before a watching world.” /4 We will be known by the love we show to everyone. The love God describes transcends man’s definition.
Christians are criticized for being unloving when they condemn sin in people’s lives. Yet, Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15). God charges his followers to stand against sin (Romans 3:23; 1 Peter 5:8,9, et al). Sin destroys lives and souls (Romans 6:23). Guiding people away from sin is not unloving but displays a great love for souls.
The love God desires for us demands action. Jesus taught his disciples that love was service rooted in humility (John 13:4-12). Paul wrote, “Let us not grow weary in doing good” (Galatians 6:9). Matthew 25:34-46 shows us that love for God is expressed in our assistance to others in need.
“A beggar at a street corner, with bony hands and pallid lips, asked an alms. The passerby searched his pockets and found that he was without money. Then he took the beggar’s hands and said: ‘I’m sorry, my brother, but I have nothing with me.’ The worn face lighted up, and the beggar said: ‘But you called me brother — that is a great gift.'” /5
Laying down our lives for our friends need not require physical death. Instead, it is expressed in humble service to others. Giving up some of our time, money, talents, and energy to offer a willing hand to those around us. For our enemies, Jesus required nothing less. We must love our enemies and do good to all men (Matthew 5:43-49; Galatians 6:10).
This would create a world we all would want to live in; a place of peace among men. There would be no more hatred, crime, war, racism, prejudice or other despicable acts. John Lennon sang in “Imagine” that if we were to rid ourselves of religion and God we would all live as one. Yet, it is only through God that this goal can be attained. Sin separates men, only the love of God unites. John Lennon had the right dream, but the wrong answer.
1/ Leroy Brownlow, The Fruit of the Spirit (Fort Worth: Brownlow Publications, 1982), 29.
2/ Robert Costello, editor. The Random House Webster’s College Dictionary (Grand Rapids: Random House, 1991), 804-805.
3/ D.A. Carson, The Farewell Discourse and Final Prayer of Jesus: An Exposition of John 14-17 (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1980), 101.
5/ Leroy Brownlow, Making the Most of Life (Forth Worth: Brownlow Publishing, 1968), 63.
Love is The Most Beautiful Blessing