What is Love?
In today’s world, we often hear about different kinds of love: romantic love, unconditional love, familial love, and more. But often, timeless expressions of love in the Bible can get lost among the jargon. So, to understand what the Bible says about true love, we must first consider what love means in its most basic sense.
At its core, love is used to describe an unselfish and selfless action that is focused on caring for and building the relationship between two people. It is fundamentally an action and not just a feeling, and it encompasses the idea of sacrificial giving and self-denial while keeping in mind the well-being of another.
Love is not defined by our own individual ideas or expectations of what love should be, but rather by God’s truth about love. In the New Testament, Jesus explains that the greatest commandment is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37).
Therefore, when we consider what the Bible says about true love, we should recognize it is referring to our love of God. When this love extends to other people and relationships, it is truly genuine, sacrificial, and unconditional.
Sacrificial love is a key aspect of true love in the Bible. The idea of sacrificing oneself for another is found throughout the Bible. Jesus Himself demonstrated this kind of selflessness when He chose to die on the cross in order to save mankind from their sins.
John 3:16 offers further insight into how God views sacrificial love, “. . . For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, so that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”. Not only does this verse demonstrate God’s selfless act of love for mankind, it also shows how we should treat our fellow human beings and also how love should be reciprocated.
Romans 12:10 tells us, “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” In this instance, sacrificial love is used to encourage individuals to put the needs of someone else before their own, even if it involves personal sacrifice.
The Bible also speaks of the importance of loving all people, regardless of their creed, race, or gender. In Galatians 3:28, Paul writes, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” In other words, true love must be extended to everyone, regardless of who they are.
One of the most important characteristics of true love is that it is unconditional. This means that regardless of what someone does, the love will remain. This idea is best exemplified in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.
The Bible states that “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails”.
These verses speak to the concept of unconditional love and how it manifests itself in relationships. However, it is important to remember that unconditional love is not always easy, and it can take time to learn to love this way.
In Mark 10:17-19, Jesus tells a wealthy young man to give up all his possessions in order to become a true follower of His. This is a prime example of God’s unconditional love, even in the face of difficulty. Jesus was willing to sacrifice and risk all for the sake of His followers.
God’s true and unconditional love opens the door for us to not only love ourselves, but to love others in the same way. This kind of love should begin with loving God and then extend to loving our family, friends, and even our enemies. In Matthew 5:44, Jesus says, “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who mistreat you.”
God’s Characteristics of Love
In addition to understanding the concept of love, it is also important to consider the characteristics of true love that God embodies. In the Bible, God is identified as the source of love in 1 John 4:8, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
God’s love is described as “abounding” in Psalm 103:8, “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love”. This passage speaks to God’s immense and boundless love, which exceeds all forms of human love.
In addition, God’s love is described as merciful, which is highlighted in Micah 7:18: “He does not retain his anger for ever, because he delights in mercy”. This speaks to God’s willingness to forgive and forget, no matter the offense.
The Bible also demonstrates God’s steadfast love in Psalm 136:1-9, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, his love endures forever”. This passage speaks to the idea that God’s love is not limited to certain people or situations, but is extended to all of His creation.
These characteristics of love are important to understand as they are indicative of the way true love should be expressed and practiced. When put into practice, these qualities can help foster strong relationships and create meaningful connections.
Love One Another
Another key aspect of true love in the Bible is that it is to be shared among those around us. In John 15:12, Jesus tells the disciples to “love one another as I have loved you.” This verse speaks to the idea that love is something to be shared and that we should love others as we would love ourselves.
Galatians 5:13-14 also speaks of loving one another, “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love”. This verse speaks to the idea of loving one another in service, which is a key concept in showing true love.
Ephesians 4:2 also emphasizes loving one another, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love”. This verse speaks to the idea that being patient and kind with others will help foster a sense of true and authentic love.
In summary, the Bible stresses the importance of sharing and demonstrating true love to those around us. Ultimately, it is through loving each other that we can experience true love in its fullest.
Finally, it is important to reflect on what the Bible says about true love in regards to loving one’s self. Loving ourselves is an important aspect of self-care and can help us to become healthier and more fulfilled individuals. However, it is important to remember that God must always come first in our lives so that our love for ourselves can be beneficial.
In Mark 12:30-31, Jesus encourages us to love our neighbors as ourselves. In other words, it is only through loving our neighbors that we can truly learn to love ourselves. This idea is further reinforced in 1 John 4:21, which explains that if we love one another, God’s love is being made complete in us.
In addition, the Bible encourages us to seek out guidance from God in order to learn how to love ourselves. In Psalm 119:1, we read, “Blessed are those whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord.” This verse speaks to the idea that living according to God’s commandments can help us to love ourselves in a meaningful and healthy way.
In conclusion, it is important to remember that the Bible speaks of true love as something that extends beyond simply emotions and feelings. It can be seen in sacrificial giving, self-denial, and unconditional love. Moreover, the Bible encourages us to love our neighbors as well as ourselves and to always strive to show God’s love to all we meet.