What is love? And how do we define it? Obviously if you ask any person you encounter to define love you will get a various amount of responses, but the bible takes a deeper look at what is “love” and how it should be defined: One that is selfless, unconditional and not based on how the world views love but on the way how God loves us.
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” – 1 Corinthians 13
Jesus In Plain English – What Is Love?
Is love a strong feeling of emotion or a commitment to care as much as you care about yourself? And does it still make the world go round? Cut off from a God-given moral standard, love means whatever you want; a summery, sunshine feeling for someone else – until a dark cloud blows over your little summer-love world and your feeling vanishes like the morning mist. No, love has to be more than that. We must listen to Jesus and his word on love.
- LOVE IS MORE
Love was not the only powerful word that Jesus used in his teaching, but there are just two places in John’s Gospel that I am sharing with you now. Nicodemus was likely the top-ranking Jewish teacher, who had come to talk with Jesus at night-time, perhaps to avoid bad publicity. But instead of the well-known teacher instructing Jesus with traditional theological, what a surprise, he listens to Jesus! Nicodemus has never heard anything like it, as he listens to Jesus’ wonderful words, ‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life’ (John 3:16). What amazing words! Don’t underestimate their clear meaning.
- LOVE GIVES
These most wonderful words show that God’s nature is full of love, a love which is prepared to give, and that the one who is given is also filled with the same love. So, the word used here in the original biblical language means a self-giving, self-sacrificing love, which has others’ highest interest at heart. God is love, but that does not mean a sentimental, gushy sort of feeling open to being pulled or pushed this way and that. No, God’s love is purposeful, and it sets out to give so that by Jesus’ death vast numbers of people, down through the centuries, will be rescued from condemnation and brought back to God and into his own family.
For here is the other side of the love of God; it is a pure and holy love, which sets out to save people and bring them into fellowship with God by giving his own Son into the awful judgement their sins deserved. This just judgement is the worst of all perils. And all are included, ‘for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3:23). But Jesus is telling Nicodemus that God is providing one amazing way of escape – the way to receive God’s gift of eternal life through wholehearted trust in Jesus, who died and was raised to a victorious, endless life. Today, he is the ever-living Saviour, whose love is as powerful and as strong as when he hung dying on the cross.
- LOVE IS GOD’S BEST
Stop for a moment and think. God did not just write about his love in the sky in huge glowing letters, ‘I love you!’ for all the world to see. No, rather he wrote his love in the precious life-blood of his beloved eternal Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, as Jesus died on the cross. Then God opened the hearts of Jesus’ disciples so they would be moved, and filled with Jesus’ love, and have the power of his precious blood cleanse their sin-defiled hearts.
Then they could share it with the whole world, and write it down in the New Testament Scriptures so we could read it today, and begin to see that God loved enough to give his best, so that we who were the worst, cut off from God as his enemies, could be forgiven and reconciled to God by the death of his Son.
- LOVE THAT CHALLENGES
That is love – love that moves us to give ourselves to the loving Saviour, and to praise him with deep thankfulness for time and for eternity. And then, there is a challenge, for those are overwhelmed by the love of God and who call upon him to save them and give them eternal life, are also called to a life of love.
Jesus said, ‘A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another’ (John 13:34-35). And that, in plain English is love – the most awesome, the most amazing, the most challenging word that exists, because in its biblical setting it reveals the love of God.
ANSWERS – FOR A SEARCHING GENERATION
Hello – I’ve written several books and many articles – with the goal of showing that biblical Christianity answers the MOST VITAL questions of all – “Who am I?” “What does it mean?” “Has it gone wrong?” “Why JESUS – & why is HE so vital?” and “Who is God and what is he like?”
Michael J. S. Austin, Ph.D.
My new e-book – “Jesus DIED – Does it matter?” offers a thought-provoking question and answer approach to Jesus’ crucifixion and whether or not it really happened.
Did Jesus really DIE? Not sure? An urgent message about this VITAL question!
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Or take a look at my e-book, ‘I saw Him Die – Viewing Jesus’ Death TODAY’, which gives a challenging view of Jesus’ crucifixion and its meaning based on Hebrews in the New Testament.
Use my books and articles to help you find faith in Christ, or to strengthen your faith.