What is love?

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God Himself is love.

1 John 4:8 NASB95
The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
Love for God is the greatest commandment. Love for others is the second.
Matthew 22:34–40 NASB95
But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together. One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ “This is the great and foremost commandment. “The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”
The Bible begins with God; the Lord’s prayer begins with God; the major historic creeds begin with God. Love begins in God. Let us begin with the love of God for God.
Passages about the love of the persons within the Trinity
John 17:24–26 NASB95
“Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. “O righteous Father, although the world has not known You, yet I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me; and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”
This entire chapter is Jesus’ prayer. We learn that the world is a tremendous battleground where the forces under satan’s power and those under God’s authority are at war. satan and his forces are motivated by bitter hatred for Jesus Christ and His forces. Jesus prayed for His disciples, motivated by love. He prayed that God would keep His chosen believers safe from satan’s power.
Matthew 17:5 NASB95
While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!”
The Transfiguration was a brief glimpse of the true glory of the King. This was a special revelation of Jesus’ divinity to three of the disciples, and it was God’s loving affirmation of everything Jesus had done and was about to do.
Elijah represents the prophets who foretold the coming of the Messiah. Moses’ and Elijah’s presence with Jesus confirmed Jesus’ messianic mission: to fulfill God’s law and the words of God’s prophets. Just as God’s voice in the cloud over Mount Sinai gave authority to the law given to Moses, God’s voice at the Transfiguration gave authority to Jesus’ words.
Jesus is more than just a great leader. He is the Son of God. Some consider Jesus’ teaching as only one more religious point of view. But God said to listen only to Him.
John 3:35 NASB95
“The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hand.
Who is Jesus Christ? Jesus is not only a prophet or teacher. He claimed to be God’s beloved Son—to be God Himself. The heartbeat of John’s Gospel is the dynamic truth that Jesus Christ is God’s Son, the Messiah and the Savior. Jesus’ testimony was trustworthy because He had come from heaven and was speaking of what He had seen there. His words were the very words of God. This same Jesus has invited us to accept Him and live with Him eternally. Understand who Jesus is.
John 5:20 NASB95
“For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and the Father will show Him greater works than these, so that you will marvel.
Jesus was identifying Himself with God, His Father. There could be no doubt that He claimed to be God. Jesus does not give us the option to believe in God while ignoring God’s Son. The Pharisees also called God their Father, but they realized Jesus was claiming a unique loving relationship with Him.
Because of His unity with God, Jesus lived as God wanted Him to live. Because of our identification with Jesus, we ask the question, “What would Jesus do?”
Matthew 12:18–20 NASB95
Behold, My Servant whom I have chosen; My Beloved in whom My soul is well-pleased; I will put My Spirit upon Him, And He shall proclaim justice to the Gentiles. He will not quarrel, nor cry out; Nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets. “A battered reed He will not break off, And a smoldering wick He will not put out, Until He leads justice to victory.
Matthew quoted the Old Testament often because he wanted to prove to his Jewish audience that Jesus was the Messiah. They believed the Scriptures pointed to a coming Messiah, but they didn’t believe that it was Jesus. Jesus was in fact the one the prophets had spoken of. This particular prophecy revealed that Jesus was not to be the high-profile Messiah the Jews wanted and were expecting. The Messiah would come as a loving servant.
The people expected the Messiah to be a victorious king. The Messiah was indeed a king. Like the crowd in Jesus’ day, we might want Christ to rule our government and bring great and visible victories in our day. But often Jesus worked quietly.
Passages about God’s love for us
Exodus 20:5–6 NASB95
“You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
Why were the Ten Commandments necessary for God’s new nation? God showed His people the true function and beauty of His laws. People could see the nature of God and His plan for how they should live. They thought that obeying every law was the way to earn God’s protection from foreign invasion and natural disaster. They failed to see that keeping the law should be the means to fulfill God’s ultimate law of love.
God told His people to worship and believe in Him. They hadn’t learned that the God who had led them out of Egypt was the only true God. God made this His first commandment. Letting God hold the central place in our lives keeps other things from turning into gods.
Exodus 34:6–7 NASB95
Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.”
Moses had asked to see God’s “glory”, and this was God’s response. What is God’s glory? Notice that God gave Moses a vision not of His power and majesty but rather of His love. God’s glory is revealed in His mercy. God’s love and mercy are truly wonderful. We can respond and give glory to God when our character begins to resemble His.
Many people think the God of the Old Testament is a God of wrath. But these words from God revealed to Moses the very heart of God’s nature. God is merciful. Don’t accept anyone’s argument that the God of the Old Testament is merely vengeful. Remember that God is longsuffering and His love cannot be diminished.
Deuteronomy 4:37–39 NASB95
“Because He loved your fathers, therefore He chose their descendants after them. And He personally brought you from Egypt by His great power, driving out from before you nations greater and mightier than you, to bring you in and to give you their land for an inheritance, as it is today. “Know therefore today, and take it to your heart, that the Lord, He is God in heaven above and on the earth below; there is no other.
There is only one God and He loves us.
Deuteronomy 7:9 NASB95
“Know therefore that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments;
God loves His chosen people.
Deuteronomy 10:18 NASB95
“He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing.
The Israelites needed to commit to God inside their hearts. Then they could begin to imitate God’s love and justice in their relationships with others. If our hearts are right with God, they have been cleansed and we have been reconciled to God.
Nehemiah 9:17 NASB95
“They refused to listen, And did not remember Your wondrous deeds which You had performed among them; So they became stubborn and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt. But You are a God of forgiveness, Gracious and compassionate, Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness; And You did not forsake them.
Seeing how God continued to be with His people shows that His patience is amazing! His Spirit is always ready to instruct. Realizing the extent of God’s forgiveness helps us forgive those who fail us.
Psalm 51:1 NASB95
Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; According to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions.
Countless broken sinners have found in these words an exquisite expression of their deeply felt need for God’s mercy and forgiveness. Use this psalm as a starting point when guilt or a feeling of distance from God is affecting your relationship with Him.
God mercifully forgives. Do you feel that you could never come close to God because you have done something terrible? God can and will forgive you of any sin if you ask Him to and turn from it. God forgives us.
Psalm 89:1–2 NASB95
I will sing of the lovingkindness of the Lord forever; To all generations I will make known Your faithfulness with my mouth. For I have said, “Lovingkindness will be built up forever; In the heavens You will establish Your faithfulness.”
God had promised to make David the mightiest king on earth and to keep his descendants on the throne forever. These verses look forward to the future reign of Jesus Christ over the world.
Psalm 103:11–13 NASB95
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.
This is a symbolic portrait of God’s forgiveness. God forgives and forgets. God forgives us totally. God has wiped the record clean. Follow God.
God’s care is eternal. Too often we focus on God as Judge and Lawgiver. God examines our lives. God will deal with you compassionately.
God is like a father. God offers Himself to you to be the Father you never had or perhaps felt you never needed. You can’t go fishing or play soccer with God or be held physically by Him, but you can receive His love in your heart by means of His Holy Spirit. God can tenderly heal any deep loss you have suffered.
Psalm 106:44–45 NASB95
Nevertheless He looked upon their distress When He heard their cry; And He remembered His covenant for their sake, And relented according to the greatness of His lovingkindness.
This is a beautiful picture of God’s great love for His people who deserved only judgment. God’s compassion and mercy toward us are not limited by our faithfulness to Him. God was merciful to us in sending His Son to die for our sins.
Psalm 136:26 NASB95
Give thanks to the God of heaven, For His lovingkindness is everlasting.
We never have to worry that God will run out of love because it flows from a deep well that will never run dry.
Isaiah 54:10 NASB95
“For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake, But My lovingkindness will not be removed from you, And My covenant of peace will not be shaken,” Says the Lord who has compassion on you.
God made a covenant with Noah that He has never broken. God made a covenant of peace with the people of Israel.
Isaiah 63:9 NASB95
In all their affliction He was afflicted, And the angel of His presence saved them; In His love and in His mercy He redeemed them, And He lifted them and carried them all the days of old.
Isaiah shows three stages the people went through in relation to the Holy Spirit: They rebelled against the Holy Spirit and grieved Him. They cried out to God to send the Holy Spirit when they recognized their error. The Spirit of the Lord gave them rest. When we rebel against God, we can call on the Holy Spirit to come to us to bring us rest and hope.
Joel 2:12–13 NASB95
“Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “Return to Me with all your heart, And with fasting, weeping and mourning; And rend your heart and not your garments.” Now return to the Lord your God, For He is gracious and compassionate, Slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness And relenting of evil.
God told the people to turn to Him while there was still time. We should seize the opportunity to turn to God and serve Him now.
The prophets used many graphic pictures to show how people should prepare their hearts to repent and turn to God. Give our hearts over to God’s control. God doesn’t want an outward display of remorse without true inward repentance and a complete change of heart. Align your attitude to God’s character. Only real heart change will give you a genuine relationship with God.
Micah 7:20 NASB95
You will give truth to Jacob And unchanging love to Abraham, Which You swore to our forefathers From the days of old.
Micah said that God expected His people to do what was just and right. A world of broken relationships disregards God’s love. We must walk humbly with God. Only when we live according to God’s way will we begin to affect our homes.
John 3:16 NASB95
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
God’s love is not static or self-centered. Here God sets the pattern of true love. God paid dearly with the life of His Son. Jesus accepted our punishment. Our love must be like Jesus’—willing to give up our own comfort and security so that others might join us in receiving God’s love.
When you don’t know Jesus, you will need to ask Jesus for the new life He offers and follow Him in order to receive it.
To believe is more than to give intellectual agreement that Jesus is God. It is to put Jesus in charge of our present plan and eternal destiny. Trust Jesus with your whole life.
John 15:13 NASB95
“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.
We are to love each other as Jesus loved us.
John 16:26–27 NASB95
“In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I will request of the Father on your behalf; for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me and have believed that I came forth from the Father.
Jesus is talking about a new way to relate to God. Only priests could stand in the presence of God in the Most Holy Place. After Jesus’ resurrection, any believer could experience the presence of God anywhere, talking with God personally and directly. We approach God not because of our own merit but because Jesus, our High Priest, has made us acceptable to God.
Romans 5:5 NASB95
and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
We are complete in Christ. We are still growing in Christ. We feel both the presence of Christ and the pressure of sin. We enjoy the peace that comes from being made right with God. We will learn to depend on the power available to us from the Holy Spirit, who lives in us and is God’s gift to all who believe.
Your relationship with God begins with faith, which helps you realize you have been delivered from your past by Jesus’ death and resurrection. Hope grows as you learn all that God has in mind for you. God’s love fills your life and gives you the ability to reach out and love others.
All three members of the Trinity are involved in salvation. The Father loved us so much that He sent His Son to bridge the gap between us. The Father and the Son send the Holy Spirit to fill our lives with love and to enable us to live by His power.
Romans 5:8 NASB95
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
God sent Jesus Christ to die for us. Do not feel uncertain about God’s love for you.
Romans 8:38–39 NASB95
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Believers fear that they have been abandoned by Christ. But Paul exclaims that it is impossible to be separated from Christ. Nothing can separate us from Christ’s constant presence with us. God assures us of His great love so that we will feel totally secure in Him.
As believers we have Jesus’ power available to us. Claim these verses for yourself so you will never doubt God’s love and care for you.
2 Corinthians 13:11 NASB95
Finally, brethren, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.
We must apply the principles of God’s Word and not just hear them.
2 Thessalonians 3:5 NASB95
May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ.
Pray for others.
Titus 3:4–5 NASB95
But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,
Here Paul gives a profound summary of what Christ does for us when He saves us. We move from a life full of sin to one full of God’s Holy Spirit. This transaction begins with God’s kindness and love. We acknowledge Christ as Lord and Savior. We have a new life through the Holy Spirit. Paul reminds us to have confidence and hope in God’s plan of redemption.
Paul mentions all three persons of the Trinity in these verses because all three participate in the work of salvation. Based upon the redemptive work o His Son, the Father forgives us and sends the Holy Spirit to wash away our sins and continually renew us. The Holy Spirit was first generously poured out n the Day of Pentecost and filled the first believers there. God is not stingy.
Paul keeps the action of washing and renewing together under the work of the Holy Spirit. Baptism is a sign for the Holy Spirit’s entire work of giving us new life. Renewal is the ongoing process that begins when we first trust in Jesus.
Hebrews 12:5–6 NASB95
and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, Nor faint when you are reproved by Him; For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, And He scourges every son whom He receives.”
No one likes to be corrected and disciplined by God. God corrects you through His Word.
1 John 3:1 NASB95
See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.
We are members of God’s family, “children of God”, reflections of God. The rest of the chapter tells us what we have as we become more like Jesus: confidence before God.
Our self-worth comes from the fact that God loves us and calls us His children. Knowing that we are God’s children should encourage us to live as Jesus did. We are part of God’s family.
1 John 4:9–10 NASB95
By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
God is the source of our love. He loved us enough to sacrifice His Son for us. Jesus showed us perfectly what it means to love. The Holy Spirit gives us the power to love; He lives in our hearts and makes us more and more like Christ. How well do you display your love for God in the choices you make and the actions you take.
God creates; God cares; God wants a willing response from us; Christ died; God’s love will express itself to us forever.
Jesus is God’s only begotten Son. While all believers are sons and daughters of God, only Jesus lives in this special relationship.
Nothing sinful or evil can exist in God’s presence. Trust in Christ.
1 John 4:16 NASB95
We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
See God through love.
Jude 20–21 NASB95
But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.
To “keep yourselves in the love of God” means to live close to God and His people.
Revelation 1:4–5 NASB95
John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace, from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood—
The Trinity is the Father, the Holy Spirit, and the Son (Jesus Christ). We can be assured that John’s message is reliable and reveals God’s Word to us.
Jesus told John to write to seven churches that knew and trusted him and had read his earlier letters.
The “seven Spirits” is another name for the Holy Spirit.
Jesus is the all-powerful King. He is Lord over all. John’s Words are truth given by the King of kings. Let the truth about Christ’s power and mercy penetrate your life.
Many hesitate to witness about their faith in Christ because they don’t feel like the change in their lives has been spectacular enough. But you qualify as a witness for Jesus because of what He has done for you. Christ demonstrated His great love by setting us free from our sins through His death on the cross and making us priests to administer God’s love to others. The fact that the all-powerful God has offered eternal life to you is nothing short of spectacular.
Jesus was the first who rose from the dead to an imperishable body.
Passages on our love for God
Deuteronomy 6:5 NASB95
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
This sets a pattern that helps us relate the Word of God to our daily lives. We are to love God, and live each day by the guidelines in His Word. We miss much of what God wants us to learn. Jesus said that loving God with all of ourselves is the first and greatest commandment.
Deuteronomy 10:12–13 NASB95
“Now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require from you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the Lord’s commandments and His statutes which I am commanding you today for your good?
“What does God expect of me?” Fear God. Are you frustrated and burned out from trying to please God?
Deuteronomy 11:22–23 NASB95
“For if you are careful to keep all this commandment which I am commanding you to do, to love the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and hold fast to Him, then the Lord will drive out all these nations from before you, and you will dispossess nations greater and mightier than you.
Love and obedience are rewarded.
Psalm 18:1 NASB95
“I love You, O Lord, my strength.”
In this psalm God is praised for His glorious works and blessings through the years.
Psalm 91:14 NASB95
“Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name.
God protects us in the midst of danger. God doesn’t promise a world free from danger.
Luke 6:32 NASB95
“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.
Jesus gave similar sermons on several different occasions.
The Jews despised the Romans because they oppressed God’s people, but Jesus told the people to love these enemies. Jesus wasn’t talking about having affection for enemies. God loves the whole world. Jesus tells us to follow His example by loving our enemies.
Romans 8:28 NASB95
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
God works in all things. God is able to turn every circumstance around for our long-range benefit. Note that God doesn’t work only to make us happy but to fulfill His purposes. This promise can be claimed only by those who love Gd and are called by Him—those the Holy Spirit convinces and enables to receive Christ. They trust in God. Their faith in God does not waver in pain and persecution because they know God is with them.
1 Peter 1:8–9 NASB95
and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.
We must faithfully serve God here and now. Do it all with the joy of God.
Passages about our love for others
Matthew 5:44–45 NASB95
“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
These statements were offensive to the Jews of Jesus’ day. Any Messiah who would turn the other cheek was not the military leader they wanted to lead a revolt against Rome. But Jesus suggested a new response.
Jesus is keeping us from taking the law into our own hands. We need God’s supernatural help to love people who commit cruel and evil acts. Jesus says we are to love our enemies. You will show that Jesus truly rules your life. This becomes possible when we give ourselves fully to Jesus as Lord. We must trust the Holy Spirit to help us show love to those for whom we may not feel love.
John 13:34–35 NASB95
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Jesus says that our Christlike love will show we are His disciples. Do people know you are Jesus’ followers by your love for one another? How can we love others as Jesus loves us?
To love others as much as Jesus loved others was revolutionary. Now we are to love others based on Jesus’ sacrificial love for us. Such love will not only bring unbelievers to faith in Jesus but also keep believers strong and united in a world hostile to God. Jesus was a living example of God’s love. The love Jesus calls us to show seems humanly impossible. We need to humble ourselves by realizing that Jesus died for us and our unlovely sins. Then we need the Holy Spirit to pour out God’s love in our hearts so we can love others.
Romans 12:9–10 NASB95
Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;
God calls us to genuine love that goes far beyond pretense and politeness. Look for ways you and your fellow believers can love your community like Jesus.
We honor people because they have been created in God’s image, because they are our brothers and sisters in Christ, and because they have a unique contribution to make to Christ’s church. Does God’s way of honoring sound too difficult for your competitive nature?
Ephesians 5:1–2 NASB95
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.
We should imitate God. We do that by modeling our lives after Jesus. As the Son of God, He was the incarnation of God on earth.
Colossians 3:12–14 NASB95
So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.
Paul offers a strategy to help us live for God day by day: imitate Christ’s compassion; let the peace of Christ rule in your heart; keep God’s Word in you at all times; live as Jesus Christ’s representative.
Forgiving others starts with remembering how much God has forgiven us. Is it difficult for you to forgive someone who has wronged you a little when God has forgiven you so much? Realizing God’s infinite love and forgiveness for you can help you love and forgive others. Let God worry about the wrongs you’ve suffered.
1 Thessalonians 4:9 NASB95
Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another;
Stay pure.
1 Peter 3:8 NASB95
To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit;
Where is God? How can we know God is real? God sent His Son, Jesus Christ. God also chose Peter and others to show what a difference true faith makes in the real world. What a difference God makes! You are God’s witness to skeptical people.
These five qualities go a long way toward helping believers serve God well.
1 John 3:17 NASB95
But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?
Both James and John witnessed Jesus practicing this throughout His ministry and in His sacrifice on the cross for all who trust in Him. Are you as generous as God wants you to be with your money?
1 John 4:7–8 NASB95
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
“God is love,” not “Love is God”—if we truly know God.
1 John 4:19 NASB95
We love, because He first loved us.
Love starts with God. His love fills us when the Holy Spirit comes to live in us when we trust in Him.
1 John 4:20–21 NASB95
If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.
It is easy to say we love God when that love doesn’t cost us anything more than weekly attendance at church services. But the real test of our love for God becomes evident in how we treat people right in front of us. We cannot truly love God while neglecting to love those who are created in His image. Jesus’ love reveals itself in our compassion.
Passages on the nature of love
Proverbs 10:12 NASB95
Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all transgressions.
This is a wise saying of Solomon.
1 Corinthians 13:4–7 NASB95
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
God’s love is the reason this world exists and why He wants to spend eternity with us.
God’s kind of love is directed outward toward others. It is impossible to have this kind of love unless God helps us set aside our own natural desires so that we can love without expecting anything in return. We gain it only through the Holy Spirit, the more we become like Christ.
It helps to remember that perfection exists only in God.
We pause to consider that these words actually describe God’s character. They are substantial descriptions of the way God perfectly relates to us. The Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write a breathtakingly beautiful description of the nature of God. Only God can put His character in us and help us love like this.
1 Corinthians 13:8–12 NASB95
Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.
Until we grow closer to Christ, we don’t perfectly reflect Jesus to others.
Paul was referring to when we will see Jesus Christ face-to-face. God gives believers spiritual gifts for their lives on earth in order to build up and strengthen fellow Christians so that they can be better encouraged and equipped to share the love of God with the world. We will be made perfect and complete and will be in the very presence of God. We will have a full understanding and appreciation for one another as unique expressions of God’s infinite creativity. We will use our differences as a reason to praise God!
1 John 3:16 NASB95
We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
This the outworking of love.
The most important “lovers” in Scripture are the three persons of the Trinity.
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