I have found that many have their own theories about love, some say it’s a word or a feeling, and there are even those who believe that love does not exist, but I have chosen to accept what the word of God says about love: What it is, where it comes from, who’s to give it and who should receive it.
Before I can go any further, we must first establish in our hearts and minds (if we have not done so already) where love originates from. Let’s begin with the writings of John, “Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” 1 John 4:8. I think we can agree that according to the scriptures we can see what love is and where it originates from. If you’ve been a Christian for any length of time you’ve probably heard multiple sermons about this subject. I know in my thirty plus years of being a follower of Jesus I certainly have, and as a pastor and teacher I’ve taught it myself many times. In fact I thought I knew for sure without a doubt everything there is to know about love until fourteen years ago. Like you, I was taught that God loved me, and there came a time when I had a choice to make to believe in his love or not. I learned to trust what John, a disciple of Jesus, says, “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son…”. (John 3:16) Let’s stop here for a moment and think about what this verse is saying: First, he tells us that “God Loved” and then we’re told “who” God loved (the world, meaning all of mankind), and then it shows us “what” love did. As we can see it does not say that Love is a word or a feeling, it describes to us that Love is an “action“. It says love “gave“.
If you’ve been attending church for any length of time or if you’ve read your Bible, you are probably well aware of the 1Corinthians chapter 13. Many know this and have quoted it as the “Love Chapter”. In the first few verses it teaches us that we can have the gifts of the Spirit, and great faith to move mountains. It even goes as far as to say that we can give our own body as a sacrifice. Let’s stop here for a moment: All of these things listed above would be and are accepted as great and noble things, but the scriptures continue by saying that if we negate one very important thing, it would all be worthless, “but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.” 1Corinthians 13:1-3.
If you finish reading the rest of this chapter you will see that one of the fruits of the Spirit is Love and that love will have particular characteristics such as patience, kindness, not allowing ourselves to be jealous, proud or rude, not being selfish or irritable but that love rejoices in the truth. In verse 7 it continues by saying, ” Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”
The verses above teach us the attributes of Love and how we are to respond toward others. In his teachings Jesus takes it further and shows us a “new” facet of love and that this kind of love is seen and demonstrated as acts of “mercy”. Throughout his ministry he demonstrated and taught his disciples what love in action looks like (see the early church putting this love into action in Acts 2 & 4). In fact this love was commanded by God all throughout the old testament and was many times described as justice and mercy. Jesus continued these commands and teachings in the new testament: “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” John 13:34,35. He learned about this love (mercy and justice) from the old testament scripture in Deuteronomy 6:5 and he is found quoting it in Luke chapter 10:27 “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind. (HOW JESUS, HOW DO WE LOVE GOD?) Jesus continues by saying, ‘ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” King James versions says, “and the like (or just like it) love your neighbor as yourself”. The following is a perfect description of “who” our neighbor is and “what” love and mercy looks like in the true story of the Good Samaritan:
” One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it? The man answered, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. “Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!” The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
Jesus replied with a story: “A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road. “By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side. “Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’ “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked. The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.”Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.” Luke 10:25-37
I’m sure we can all agree that just by these verses alone we can see “what” love is and “who” it’s for. Jesus says that on the day of judgement he is looking for one characteristic, and this characteristic will prove to him those that are truly his disciples, his followers . This is the “proof” or “fruit” of our faith in Jesus (we are saved by grace and upon receiving his grace we are then now created in Christ to go and do good works – Ephesians 2:8-10) If we truly believe in his Son Jesus Christ, if we truly love God with all our heart, we will keep his commandment and bear the fruit of “love” toward others. Jesus says our faith in him will look like this:
The Final Judgment
“But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left. “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’ “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters you were doing it to me!’
“Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’ “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’ “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’ “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous (those who keep his commandment of love with action) will go into eternal life.” Mathew 25:31-46
“And this is his commandment: Believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ and Love One Another” 1John 3:23
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