We have all heard the word “love” used many different ways: “I love ice cream. I love my girlfriend/boyfriend/spouse. I love football. I love my mother. I love God”.
Each of these phrases is a different use of the word “love”.
How do we reach its deepest meaning?
The Bible tells us that God’s love has been poured out upon us (Rom 5:5). While we were yet sinners, God demonstrated how he loved the world by sending His Son, Jesus Christ. Christ loves us so much that He died on the cross to save us from our sins. He first loved us: unconditionally, even if we do not love Him in return. This is the heart of true love: unconditional self-giving. It is a selfless giving to another person even if it is rejected or if it brings suffering or sacrifice to the one giving it.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. John 3:16-17
This love is extreme but we are commanded to show this same type of love in Romans 13:8.
Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. Romans 13:8
This is read by most to be a good citizen, smile friendly to all or to help the little old lady cross the street. These are good things, but it doesn’t represent the love that is mentioned here.
True love for a neighbor is sacrificial looking out for the best interest for them. It is not wanting to steal from them, speak poorly of them or covet anything of theirs. Just as you would not want these things to happen to you or your family; you should not do them others.
Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law. Romans 13:10
True love is selfless and has no conditions. This type of love cannot be birthed from our own flesh; it can only be shown as we walk in the Spirit and God’s love flows through us. As this love is shown; others can see us fulfilling the righteous requirements of the Law which points people to Christ.
True love is selfless and has no conditions. If someone says they love you, but expect something in return. They are not showing true love, but rather selfishness.
Jesus showed unconditional love by giving himself for the benefit of others. True love looks out for the other person, not for self. This is the heart of true love: unconditional self-giving.
As Christ’s love flows through us; we are able to show this same type of love to our neighbor (those around us) and thus glorifying Christ.