Monday, January 9, 2012

What is Love?

As we head toward Valentine's day, I want to take a look at "love" as it is defined by God. Afterall, the word has been sorely corrupted by our culture. Thankfully, just two verses tell us much:
"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. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. (1 John 4:10,11 NASB)
Here we learn:
  • Love initiates action that is in the best interest of the other.
  • Love does not wait for the other to do what is right.
  • Love is unilateral.
  • Love gives.
  • Love gives generously.
  • Love is self-sacrificing.
  • Love is more than a feeling.
  • Love is active.
  • Love is a set of choices I am to make based on the example of God's love for me.
  • Love of others is commanded by God.
And finally, love is costly. To demonstrate love, God sent His beloved son to earth. To demonstrate love, Jesus bore our sins on the cross that we might be reconciled to His Father.

Some of these reflections on the nature of love as described by the Creator of Love are so straightforward they seem hardly worth mentioning. Yet daily we are bombarded by messages that whisper, "Do what makes you happiest!" and "You've got to look out for youself--no one else will!" Since our culture is busy in its effort to preach that love is what gives me good feelings, the reminder can't hurt! In order to live successfully, we must think biblically.

Now, the hard part. Am I loving those in my life in a way that imitates God's love for me? Or, am I merely maneuvering people around me to "fill up my tank"?

*Propitiation--a perfect, sin-free substitute who bears the wrath we deserve as utterly imperfect, unholy sinners

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