What You Believe About Love Defines More Than You Think
How do you define love? If we are honest with ourselves, we have to admit that sometimes our views of love skew more worldly than biblical. We are surrounded by a culture that has completely redefined love and shouts loudly through every means possible about what love is and is what it is not. God’s word says something very different about love that’s important for us as Christians to pay attention to.
When we buy into the world’s definition of love, we may find our relationships becoming stressed and fragmented because the world tells us that love is all about pleasing ourselves, making ourselves happy and meeting our own needs. This line of thinking leads to actions that are self centered and completely contrary to true love. Love is about giving more than it is about receiving.
So how can we be diligent to maintain a biblical view of love in the midst of a world that actively fights against God’s definition of true love? I believe there are five biblical views on love that can ground us in the truth and help us to stay rooted in a love that never fails.
- Love Positions God and Others Before Ourselves
What we believe about love determines the outcome of our relationships. Even the nonreligious among us know the “golden rule” but few know that it comes from the mouth of Jesus himself, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength and love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these,” (Mark 12:30-31). In order to truly love others the way the Bible says we should, we must first and foremost be in a love relationship with God. We must understand our position as redeemed children of God and rely on His power to enable us to love the way he commands us.
I John 3:16 says, “this is how we know what love is; Jesus laid down his life for us.” This definition of love often runs contrary to the definition we adopt from culture. Laying down our lives means putting others’ needs before our own needs, seeking to bless and honor others above ourselves. We don’t see a lot of that happening in the movies or hear it in the love songs we sing. But the Bible is clear that love always positions the needs of others before the needs of self. We can trust God to meet our needs and love others selflessly out a position of sonship as children of God.2.0
2. Covers, Bears, Believes, and Endures
Love must be willing to do some heavy lifting. Sometimes that means coming alongside the one we love, even — and especially — when they do not deserve it, and help them bear their burdens. We must be willing to absorb every liability, to cancel every debt, in an effort to maintain God-glorifying relationships.
1 Corinthians 13:7 says, “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” Love covers sin with forgiveness, repentance and restoration. Love bears with others who are weak and need our help to carry them through. Love believes in others and points them to the truth. Love endures and remains steadfast despite liabilities and debts.
3. Love Commits
1 Corinthians 13:8 says, “Love never fails.” True love knows no end. It doesn’t give up when things get tough or don’t go as planned. Love stays in the game even when the team turns the wrong direction. Love doesn’t cut and run. Love hangs tough through every trial, every disappointment, every mistake, every wrong turn.
1 Peter 4:8 says, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” Our love for God and our security in His love for us enable us to leverage everything we have for the best interest of others.
4. Love Connects
Love binds us together in perfect harmony, but even our most cherished relationships can sometimes become anything but harmonious. So often we can slip into seasons of backbiting and strife — especially with the ones we love the most. The Bible shows us how we can approach even the most contentious relationships in a loving way that will keep us connected, compassionate and kind despite the most challenging circumstances.
This is one of the most difficult views of love to believe and embrace because not only is it countercultural, it is also a polar opposite response to our human nature. This is where Christ in us empowers and enables us to love like Christ and forgive others just as He has forgiven us. This kind of love frees us to lean into our relationships with a posture of service and friendship that sin and weakness cannot erase.
5. Love Directs
As stated above, the only way we can love like this is because the love of God lives in us, because we have decided to receive and follow Jesus Christ. The kind of love we are describing here is agape love, a love that can truly only flow from God himself. Our flesh and our human nature will rail against loving like this, but God’s love in us flows through us and ultimately directs others back to Him.
W. Tozer said true love should always connect the other person back to Christ. As you begin to allow God to love others through you, they will see that the power to love like that is supernatural and only possible because of God’s work in your life. There is no more loving act any of us can do than to be an ambassador of reconciliation and direct a world desperate for love, into the arms of the only one who can love us completely.
I hope this post inspires a thought or moves you to explore the biblical view of love. This is hard stuff to apply, and I am praying (and hope you will also pray) that God will move in us and love others through us as we love and surrender to Him.
I want to conclude this post with more from God’s word because I can think of no better way to wrap up a discussion about what true love can look like in the midst of a brokenhearted world:
For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:14-21