What Is Love? -- God's Point-Of-View (Part One)
by Bobby Bruno 1/27/2014 / Christian Living
In the last article, we looked at love through the eyes of the world. Now let's take a look at what God's point-of-view of love is. When we remember that He Himself is love, we need to make sure that we seek our answers to what love really is from Him. God did not create love; He IS love. Everything about God, everything that comes from God, everything He does to and for humanity is taken from a viewpoint of love. This is true even though many in the world can't believe that a loving God would let bad things happen to the human race He created. (For the answers to that question, you will have to go back and read the articles I have written that deal with suffering. There you will find the answers as to why God allows bad things to happen to people He loves.)
As we did in the last article, we will look at God's point-of-view of love by defining it from the pages of a bible dictionary. Where the English dictionary has just a few definitions of what love is, a bible dictionary has many, including all of the scriptures from the Bible that truly define what love is. I have found from putting together the definitions from many bible dictionaries that there are sixteen specific definitions we can search and study, some as a group, and some as individuals. We have a lot of ground to cover, so let's get started.
The first definition we will explore is the one that tells us that love is the very nature of God. The first definition is proclaimed in 1 John 4:8, 16 "Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him." A lot of people don't know what it means to have God in them. When a person is saved, the Holy Spirit comes and takes up residence in the soul of that person, sealing him/her for God. This guarantees that this person now belongs to God exclusively; Satan can no longer keep him/her out of Heaven. Where a person once belonged to Satan due to un-confessed sin and a longing to live life one's own way, she is now a child of God. God no longer sees her as a sinner, but as a blood-bought, sinful nature-cleansed, righteous believer in Christ. Now, when God looks at a saved child of His, God sees the righteousness of Jesus, instead. No longer are her sins visible to God; only the righteousness of Jesus is all He sees. Because God is love, He sent Jesus to the cross so that we could be free from sin's power, and could spend eternity with Him.
So how do we know if God is in us after we've asked Him into our lives? 1 John 7-21 has the answer we're looking for: "Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother."
The next definition of love is: love is the greatest of all Christian virtues. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 tells us what happens when love is not involved in our lives: "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." Without love in our hearts for those for whom we give help, we are really giving them no help at all. Without love, we are really using our own strength to help solve the problem without the Holy Spirit to guide us. But, most of all, without love, Jesus is not involved in whatever it is we are doing for another.
So how do we love our neighbors as we love ourselves? Just who is my neighbor anyway? Your neighbor is anyone you come in contact with each and every day. We are to love all people as Jesus loves us, whether they are Christians or not, saved or not. In order to love everyone we meet, we need to see just what love is and how it is used.1 Corinthians 13:4-8, 13 gives us the answer: "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. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." There is not enough room to go over all of the above particular interpretations, but suffice it to say that love must always accompany every deed we do. Pastor Chuck Swindoll once said "When the flesh is in it, its chaos; when God is in it, it flows."
Another definition about loving others is that love is essential to man's relations to God and man. Matthew 22:34-39 says to us: "Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" As Jesus said, we should love our neighbors as we love ourselves (Mt 22:39), because only then we can not only fulfill their need God's way, we will also be showing them just who Jesus Christ is and how much He loves them too, which may convince them that Jesus is real and needs to be their Lord and Savior. Remember, everything we do for another person is never about us; it is always about Jesus working through us to save them from their sins and to secure them a place in heaven with Him for all of eternity. Help your neighbors in any way you can and you just might find yourself in a conversation with them about why you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior.
In order to love others, we need to know where love comes from, how God loves us, who gives us the ability to love others, and how to keep love alive within ourselves so we may always continue to give it to others. Love comes from God. In the Old Testament, God proved His love to the Israeli nation by constantly being their protection and provider as He still does today. But God really proved how much He loves us by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to earth so that we may see the love of God expressed in a way that all humans could understand. Jesus Christ as a human gave us many examples of what the love of God looks like in the miracles He performed and the words He had to say.
How was God's love for us expressed through Jesus? In the fact that love found its supreme expression in the self-sacrifice on Calvary when Jesus allowed Himself to be crucified and to die on the cross taking all of our sins with Him into death. 1 John 4:10 tells us that "This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins." Jesus Christ did all of the work in taking care of our sins with His death because He knew that we couldn't do it for ourselves. No matter how much good you do for other people, without the love of Jesus in your heart and your sins forgiven by Him, you can never love another person in the way that God wants you to love them the way that Jesus showed us how to; by sacrificing all that we have to make sure that other's needs are taken care of. That doesn't meant that we go without, it only means that we are willing to surrender all we have and all we are to Jesus His sole purpose to bring everyone in the world into a proper relationship with him for eternity.
Let's look a little closer at how God has expressed His love for His Son, Jesus. Only a perfect man could take our sins upon Himself so that we could be free of their burden upon our lives. God's love was expressed through God's own Son, Jesus Christ, who is the one and only unique object of His eternal love. Long before Jesus' feet walked the earth, God was already letting people know that He was going to send Jesus here to be with us and how much He loved His Son. God says through the Old Testament prophet Isaiah, in Isaiah 42:1 -- "Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations." This was said approximately four hundred to five hundred years before Jesus was even born. God delighted in Jesus just as He delights in us when we turn our lives over to Him, for His purposes.
The Bible does not record the young life of Jesus Christ in any detail. In fact, only one instance is recorded (Luke 2:41-49), when He was twelve years old do we see Him in the Temple talking with the teachers of the Law of Moses. After that account we do not see Jesus until He comes to the river Jordan to be baptized by John the Baptist. Here, again, we see that God's hand is on Him and that God, His Father, loved Him deeply. Matthew 3:16-17 records "As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." And again, during Jesus' transfiguration, when He talked with Moses and Elijah, Matthew17:5 records "While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!" As we can see, God deeply loved His Son used every way possible to let al of humanity know it.
Now, let's take a look at how God's love is directed at all of us whom He has created and placed on planet Earth for the purpose of loving Him. John 3:16 is perhaps the most quoted verse in from the entire Holy Bible. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son" (John 3:16-18). We see this verse designation written on posters at sporting events, but how many people know just what tis verse, and the two after it, really mean. To unpack these verses would take make a book in itself, but the verses themselves explain all we need to know about the love of God for all of His creation. God sent Jesus to die for our sins, and Jesus did this willingly. Would you or I willingly give up our lives for someone else?
Because of the Fall, we have become a creation of sinners; humans who have decided that we don't need God to live our lives properly. "Besides," we tell ourselves, "there is no way to prove that God even exists." This wrong thinking is easy to refute because Jesus has actually walked on the dirt of the earth to bring the news that there is a God and that He loves us more than we could ever know. This love of God's gave Him the will to send His Son, Jesus, to take our sins upon Himself and to die to take them to the grave with Him. Jesus did this willingly because He is God in the flesh and came here to show us this love He has for us so that we will want to know His love throughout our lives and into eternity with Him at the end our these earthly lives.
God loves the world as a whole, but He gives us the decision to follow and accept His love or not. As verse eighteen tells us, we must believe that Jesus is who He said He is, the Son of God, and that if we do this one simple thing, we will have live in abundance and will also enjoy eternal life with Jesus in Heaven at the end of our days. If we believe than we will no longer be condemned in God's eyes, but, if we do not believe, then we will condemned for all time and will not be with God in Heaven for eternity. For those who decide not to believe Jesus' claim to be the Son of God, and the only way to be with God for eternity, God will send them to a place the bible calls Hell; a place where they will be separated from God for all of eternity just as they had decided they wanted to be. The choice is yours eternity forever in the presence of our loving God, or eternity in a place where you will suffer without a loving God simply because you decided to make the choice to be left alone when the choice to believe was presented to you through whatever means God had placed before you to convince you that He is indeed real and that His way into Heaven is the only way. God wants no one to miss Heaven with Him, but He will not force those to go to Heaven if they decide that they just want to be left alone.
In the next few articles, we will continue with looking at love from God's point of view from the definitions from the pages of a Bible dictionary, side-by-side with verses from scripture that explain these definitions. Remember that God does not want even one person to be condemned to Hell. He wants everyone to know that He loves them and wants to be with them throughout the rest of eternity in Heaven, a place where there is no more sorrow, pain, tears, or suffering. Please decide to see things God's way and you will find yourself in a better life you may have never thought possible. Give God a chance to prove to you that He loves you and wants you to be His forever. Just call out His name in faith and you will become a forever child of God.
Coming next: What is Love? God's Point of View (Part Two)
All Scripture quotations are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION . Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved."
Bobby Bruno was saved 15 years ago in a way that left him no doubt that Jesus wanted him to reach others with His great and abounding love. He started writing at the age of 12 and hasn't stopped since. He achieved Associates Degree in Biblical Studies from Ohio Christian University in early 2014.