What is Love?
We take a look at the first fruit of the Spirit in the life of believers.
Yesterday, we took a look at what the Bible says about the fruit of the Spirit. And today, we’re going to look at the first fruit in the list, love.
What does the Bible say about love?
Of all of the Christian virtues, love is the only one that has a whole chapter dedicated to it (1 Corinthians 13).
Moreover, believers are commanded to love God with all they have and to love their neighbors as themselves (Deut 6:5; Lev 19:18; Mat 22:37; Mk 12:30; Lk 10:27; Rom 13:8-10; Js 2:8; 1 Pet 4:8). By loving God and others, we fulfill the law (Rom 13:10; Gal 5:14).
Not only are believers to love friends and neighbors, but they are also commanded to love their enemies (Mat 5:44). Given its importance, no wonder Paul listed love first. So, what does it mean to love?
Love as God defines it
The Christian view of love is not what we see in the movies. It’s not merely about a feeling or an emotion or a relationship. Nor is love something that people fall into.
Love in the Bible is much more than that. But it’s also important to keep in mind that love is not simply the act of giving to a charity, either. Paul makes this clear when he says that if he were to give away all that he had, and yet he didn’t have love, something’s still missing (1 Cor 13:3).
Now, don’t get me wrong. Charity is a good thing, and I’m sure that Paul believed that too. But there’s something more to love than just helping out those in need for the sake of doing so.
Perhaps, it may be helpful to look at how Paul describes love in order grasp the biblical understanding of it:
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (ESV)
Four attributes of biblical love
There’s much we could say, here, but for now, there are at least four things that we can learn from this passage about love:
- Love is a choice
- Love is an attitude
- Love is active
- Love is selfless
Love often is more about giving than it is about receiving. When we truly love another, it involves looking out for the other person’s best interest and not only our own. Sometimes it means giving up our wants and desires. That’s why when we see a person give up his or her life for another, it’s one of the greatest acts of love. The Bible tells us that God is love (1 Jn 4:8, 16) and that He demonstrated His love to us by sending Jesus to die for our sins (1 Jn 4:10). Moreover, it tells us that Jesus gave up His life for us (Jn 15:3). It is because of God’s love that we are to love others (1 Jn 4:11).
How do I become more loving?
Now that we’ve considered what the Bible says about love, how should we respond? Here are four steps to consider as you begin to incorporate the virtue of love into your lives.
- Step 1: Read through 1 Corinthians 13 for your devotions this week
- Step 2: Ask God to help you develop the virtue of love in your life.
- Step 3: Pray for God to show you areas where you can love others.
- Step 4: Begin looking for and taking opportunities to love others.
Regarding this last step, it may be as simple as obeying your parents, helping a friend in need when you could be playing video games, giving time to work for a charity, encouraging friends who are hurting, giving money to support a missionary instead of going to the Mall to buy clothing.
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