What Is Love?
Scripture plainly states that Jesus is love. When it comes to love, the answer is ALWAYS JESUS.
Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. - 1 John 4:8
God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. - 1 John 4:6
However, what is love? When scripture says Jesus (God) IS love, what does that mean? Our Western culture considers "love" something that is beyond our control. Psychology Today states:
Love is a force of nature. However much we may want to, we can not command, demand, or take away love, any more than we can command the moon and the stars and the wind and the rain to come and go according to our whims. - Psychology Today, November 25, 2011
Yet scripture commands us to love our enemies. How can we do this if it is beyond our ability to control love? The problem is in how we define "love." The Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition captures how we define love:
- (1) strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties. For example maternal love for a child.
- (2) attraction based on sexual desire: affection and tenderness felt by lovers.
- (3) affection based on admiration, benevolence, or common interests.
- 1b: an assurance of affection.
- 2: warm attachment, enthusiasm, or devotion. For example, love of the sea.
- 3a: the object of attachment, devotion, or admiration. For example, baseball was his first love.
- 3b: a beloved person.
Notice, in all of the above, love is defined by how we feel. Love is a feeling that arises within us in response to another person or object. So Psychology Today is right. How can we control our feelings? They are what they are. Yet, in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus plainly says:
But I say to you, love your enemies... - Matthew 5:44
It's a command, meaning something we must do. "But," you say, "I don't like my enemies. I have no love for my enemies. How can I change my feelings? I can't do that!"
Are we commanded to do something we cannot do? No. The problem is there is no single English word for what Jesus is telling us to do. "Love" is the closest word we have. The word in Greek is "agape," which is translated as "love" in English. But, "agape" has nothing to do with feelings. It is an action of love. "Agape" means to sacrificially help another person by meeting a REAL need. That is the love of God. The most famous verse in the Bible is a good illustration:
For God so loved [agape] the world, that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life. - John 3:16
Agape... God took action. His love was a sacrificial action of giving His only Son so that those who believe could live. Without that action, there is no love.
God is love. That means that EVERYTHING God does is love.... His truth... His mercy... His justice. Everything He does is an action of love. We are commanded to love God first, and to love God above ALL else. That means our actions, what we do, should always glorify (benefit) God.
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. - 1 Corinthians 10:31
One of the scribes came up and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, “What commandment is the foremost of all?” Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘Hear, Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these. - Mark 12:28-31
We are to love God first and foremost. By loving God we are glorifying God. Why? Because to love God means to obey God, and when we obey God we are glorifying God.
Secondarily we are to love (agape) other people. That means, without violating the command to love God, we are to DO things to meet the real needs of other people. It does not matter whether we like them or not. Love has nothing to do with our feelings. Our actions should be actions that meet their real needs. What is the #1 need people have? The gospel. Jesus. Above all else, people need Jesus.
HOWEVER, there are 23 instances in the New Testament in which the English word "love" is not translated from "agape." tap here to learn more about Biblical love.
The Bottom line in every case is that the answer to the question "What is love?" is ALWAYS JESUS.
YOU DON'T HAVE A CHANCE
What you believe does not determine reality nor truth. You ARE NOT god. You don't control the universe. You cannot change reality.
Try an experiment. Stand in the middle of the road late at night. When you see headlights in the distance, stand firm. They are not real. If you don't believe in vehicles, you are perfectly safe... until reality hits.
Reality is, you will stand before Jesus to be judged. You may not believe Jesus is real or that He is God. But it is true and you can't change reality.
Judgment only takes a moment, nothing is hidden from God, you are guilty. You've lied, stolen, and sexually lusted after others (Matthew 5:28)... you have disobeyed God. Trusting Jesus is the ONLY answer, but it's too late. You scream out, "I didn't know!"
But you did know. All of creation declares God's glory, His invisible attributes, and His power. You have no excuse. You chose to reject Jesus Christ (God). (Romans 1:18-32)
Or maybe you are saying, "Hell isn't so bad, I'll be drinking beer with my friends." But, there will be no friends... no beer... not even water to cool your lips. There is NOTHING good in hell.
So I beg you, trust Jesus. He paid the penalty you earned by rejecting God. Trust Jesus to save you from hell and bring you into the presence of God.
Trust Jesus. Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved. - Acts 16:31