What is biblical love? Is it what greeting card writers or Hollywood movie producers want us to believe? Is it some irresistible attraction? Is it something we fall into and out of? Are we just victims of Cupid’s arrows?
The Bible offers us a very practical picture of love as God intended it. How would you rate yourself on God’s scale?
Exodus 39 & 40
How Loving Are You?
What is Biblical Love?
So what is love? Is it what greeting card writers or Hollywood wants us to believe? Is it some irresistible attraction? Is it something we fall into and out of? Is love something over which we have no control?
God’s idea of love is very different from the Hollywood version. The love we see played out on movies screens is often selfish and based almost entirely on physical attraction.
The God-kind of love is unselfish and based on the welfare of the other person. John said, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son …” He gave us what we needed.
That doesn’t mean the love between a man and a woman is devoid of intense feelings or sexual excitement. You only have to read the Song of Solomon to realize that God puts He stamp of approval on those things when they take place within the context of marriage. But when sexual excitement happens outside of marriage or when it’s all a relationship is based on, it will fall far short of biblical love and will seldom last.
One definition of love is “a purposeful, sacrificial action for the benefit of another and the glory of God without expecting anything in return.” And one of the best passages to show us what that looks like is 1 Corinthians 13.4-8. Among other things, it says:
- Love is patient. It’s patient when tempted to be impatient.
- Love is kind. It’s kind even when the other person doesn’t deserve kindness.
- It’s not envious of others. It’s not envious of their material possessions, their success, or anything else.
- Love is not boastful. It doesn’t show off or brag. It’s not puffed up with pride.
- It’s not rude. Sometimes we’re kinder to strangers than we are to our own spouses and children. But if God’s love abides in us we will not be rude, either in our words or our actions.
- Love is not selfish, constantly seeking to have its own way. It prefers others as more important than itself.
- It is not irritable, no matter what the circumstances. It is not resentful.
- Love bears all things. It bears up under hardship. The old King James Version says that love forbears. It puts up with. At times we just have to “put up with” the shortcomings and failings of others. Love covers a multitude of sins (1 Pet. 4.8).
- It believes all things. It gives the other person the benefit of the doubt. It believes that God is working in the other person just as He is working in us.
- Love hopes. Biblical hope is much stronger than our “wishing and hoping” kind of hope. It’s expectant.
- It endures. It perseveres. Love never ends.
Based on this list, if you were to rate your love on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being very low and 10 supremely loving, how would you rate yourself? Take a minute and think about it. I’ll wait.
Most of us rate ourselves about a 5 or a 6. We tend to think, “I’m not as loving as I could be, but I’m a lot more loving than so and so.” The problem is “so and so” is not the standard. Christ is! So if you were to rate yourself based on Christ’s love, how loving are you?
Compared to Christ, how patient am I?
Compared to Christ, how kind am I?
Compared to Christ, how do I feel when others are blessed?
Compared to Christ, how humble am I?
Compared to Christ, how unselfish am I?
Most of us would end up in the negative! And yet, Christ’s love is the goal.
The good news is that we don’t have to grit our teeth and make ourselves loving. We need to contemplate His love for us on a regular basis and contemplate the cross and how it was the greatest demonstration of love. We need to meditate on His Word and His character and ask Him to give us a right heart attitude and to give us the will and desire to do what pleases Him. Then we need to step out in faith and do what love does and allow Him to demonstrate His love through us.
No Greater Love
John 15.12-13 says:
12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.
That’s exactly what Jesus did for us and what He calls us to do for one another.
Most of us won’t all be called to suffer and die physically for someone else. Instead, He calls us to die to our selfish wants and desires every day (Lk. 9.23-24). He calls us to prefer the other person as more important than ourselves (Phil. 2.3-4), to be givers and not takers (Eph. 4.28), and to live our lives to please Him and not ourselves (2 Cor. 5.9).
If you’re familiar with my testimony you know that my husband and I have proven that living this way, especially in the context of marriage, is a better way to live. It leads to a deepening of love, romance, and intimacy. As I write this, we are celebrating our 35th wedding anniversary and I can tell you that we love each other more today than we did when we first met and got married. In fact, we love each other more than we ever thought possible.
If you’d like to read our testimony, you can do so here: “Marriage Made in Heaven? My Story.”
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Today’s Other Readings:
Exodus 39 & 40:
Manifesting His Presence
In these two chapters the tabernacle was completed and once it had been set up, the glory of the Lord filled it. What an incredible thing to be able to “see” the glory of the Lord as a cloud by day and fire by night or to see it fill the temple!
How is God’s Presence Manifest Today?
Today we are His tabernacle or temple. When we accept Christ as our Savior, God in the person of the Holy Spirit takes up residence in us.
1 Corinthians 6.19-20 says, “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
When the world sees us, they should see a little bit of God. We are to let His light shine through us so that they may see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven (Matt. 5.16). We do that as we live out His Word—summed up in Matthew 22.37-40. We are to love God wholeheartedly and one way we demonstrate that love is by loving others as we already know how to love ourselves.
This passage speaks prophetically of the events of the crucifixion. In particular, they pierced his hands and feet (Psalm 22.16) and they divided and cast lots for His garments (Psalm 22.18).
Everything in the Old Testament points to the time when Christ, our sinless Savior, would suffer and die. He would willingly lay down His life out of love.
When He Prepared the Heavens
It took science more than a few thousand years to figure out that the world was
round when it was right there in His Word.
Verse 27 says, “When He prepared the heavens, I was there, when He drew a circle on the face of the deep …”
In the coming days, we’ll talk about the importance of defending your faith, the need to get the logs out of our eyes, and how Islam intends to conquer the West largely through cultural invasion. We’ll also pose the question, “Could you be raising little hypocrites?” and talk about what it means to preach the gospel to yourself and why it’s so important.
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