Love needs someone or something to express itself towards as the essence of love is giving; starting with an emotional feeling, followed by a choice, it is outworked in deliberate action for the benefit of its object. Wanting the best for the other person, it does not blackmail, manipulate, control or retaliate. Love is considerate and not demanding, often involving patience, sacrificing as the needs of others are put before one’s own. With self-discipline, it considers the long-term, as opposed to lust, which is demanding and wanting instant, self-centered gratification regardless of the other person’s wishes. Love forgives, encourages, brings freedom and life. Conversely, fear condemns, criticises, wants to control and brings death.
Love is the opening of your life to another and gives freedom inside established and secure boundaries, yet when it is rejected (for it can’t exist without the freedom to be spurned), it hurts deeply. God felt rejected many times by the nation of Israel. He repeatedly said they committed spiritual adultery by worshipping and giving themselves to foreign gods (Hos 1:2, 3:1, 4:12). “How often I would have gathered you together as a hen gathers her chickens together, but you would not” (Mt 23:37). Jesus continued to love the disciples, knowing one of them would betray Him, leading to His cruel death, another would deny Him, and that each of them would desert Him for a time. In love, He is committed to us too, knowing that we also will fail many times. God loves us – not always for what we do but for who we are, His own creation.
“God is love” – it is His nature – (who He is), and He showed it in a very practical way – proved to us, sinners, when Jesus stepped into our shoes and died in our place that we might receive eternal life, instead of forever suffering for our sins (Jn 3:16; Rom 5:8; 1 Jn 4:7,8,16). God’s love is constantly towards us. He unconditionally loves and reaches out as He loves us too much to leave us in our sin and waywardness. We should delight to give Christ our full devotion, spending quality time in intimate fellowship with Him just as takes place in a human courtship.
If you love Jesus, do what He says
you love me, you will obey what I command” (Jn 14:15). Love should be the motivating compulsion to obey, not fear of punishment. Because His nature is to love, God loves everyone yet He has a greater affinity or kinship with those who reciprocate by doing as He asks – this proves our love is genuine (Jn 14:21,23,24; 1 Jn 5:1-3; 2 Jn 1:6). “The love of the Lord is with those who respect Him…” (Ps 103:17).
Furthermore the second commandment after loving God with our whole being is to “Love our neighbour as ourselves” (Mk 12:31). Our neighbour is anyone who is in need, and consequently, when we have the resources to meet this situation in an appropriate way, we should do so (Lk 10:29-37). If I love my neighbour as much as I love myself I won’t harm them but actively work to see their needs are met (Rom 13:9). Love is not just an emotional sentiment; it is demonstrated practically. The love of God reaching out and touching us in our sinful predicament should motivate us to share the good news with others and be involved in good works – then His love in us will be complete for His love is genuine and pure (1 Pet 1:22; 1 Jn 4:11,12).
We are to love our fellow man (1 Jn 3:10, 4:7-21). This love calls for action, not just in words or a promise to pray for them but instead ministering with impartiality to even those we would rather shun and not be associated with (Jas 2:8,9; 1 Jn 3:18). Jesus said, “Don’t just love those who love you, but love your enemies and pray for them” (Mt 5:44-48). The golden rule is to "Do as you would like done to you" (Lk 6:31). Do I try to live by this standard?
Jesus showed the full extent of His love to the disciples by washing their feet, and stated, “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done...A new command I give to you. Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. All men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another...God loved me, I have loved you, now love each other with that same intensity” (Jn 13:1-17,34,35, 15:9,12). Those that have been forgiven much, will have a greater love (Lk 7:41-43,47). Let’s be honest, we all have been forgiven lots by the Lord.
Without love all else is useless – 1 Corinthians 13:1-3
is prepared to confront, give tough advice and discipline – be it loving parental discipline or God speaking to us, His children (Prov 3:11,12, 13:24; Eph 6:1-4; Heb 12:6-11; Rev 3:19). We are to speak the truth in love yet love is to be no substitute for the truth (Eph 4:15,25). Love displays the reality of Christianity – it unites, provides the motivation for good works and service to others and increases as it is practiced (Jn 13:35; Col 2:2; 1 Thes 3:12; Heb 6:10, 10:24; 1 Jn 3:16).
Love of self is not selfishness rather it comes from a mature, balanced, healthy perspective of who we are in Christ and the infinite love He has for us (Gal 2:20; 1 Jn 3:1, 4:10; Rev 1:5). From that solid secure base of self-love/self-esteem/self worth we can begin to love others as God requires (Rom 13:8-10). It is impossible to love our neighbour as ourselves unless we have a correct value of ourselves personally. Likewise, we can’t love God properly while we have hatred for someone (1 Jn 4:20-5:2). We can only grow in our relationship with God as we continue to respect and value others. It is the Holy Spirit’s love, given to us, that removes fear of both God and people (2 Tim 1:7; 1 Jn 2:8-10).
We are instructed not to love the world or its values for these will be destroyed (1 Jn 2:15-17).
God is to be first in our lives, He challenges us to give up our desires and take up our cross and follow Him – for some this even comes at the cost of their lives, choosing to remain faithful to Christ rather than deny Him (Lk 9:23; Rev 12:11). God rewards those who do this as it is a divine principle that He honours those that honour Him, preparing magnificent things for those that love Him (1 Sam 2:30; Mt 10:37-39, 19:27-30; 1 Cor 2:9).
Love is a fruit of the Spirit which results from our relationship to Christ (Gal 5:22). All things work for the good of those who love God, with nothing separating us from His love (Rom 8:28,35-39).
Do I express in words and actions my love for God and others?
serious indiscretions that hurt the person, others or us; these issues must be confronted for everyone’s benefit (1 Pet 4:8). Rather this is a loving tolerance and forgiveness to overlook minor personal offenses.