Love is love.
This definition of love has been thrown around a lot. It’s popularity is amazing because it really makes no sense. Imagine a young child coming to you and asking, “What’s a tractor?” You look at him or her very seriously and reply, “Well… a tractor is a tractor.”
Would anyone take this statement seriously?
Because of love’s importance, the Bible teaches a lot about it. Christians must have a correct understanding of it in order to have a good relationship with Him. The Bible contains the actual definition of love:
…God is love… 1 John 4:16
These three little words let us know where love originates. It comes from God. Not only does the Bible give us the true definition of love, it also gives us a perfect description of it:
Love is patient and is kind. Love doesn’t envy. Love doesn’t brag, is not proud, doesn’t behave itself inappropriately, doesn’t seek its own way, is not provoked, takes no account of evil; doesn’t rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 1 Corinthians 13:4-6
Many Christians may have a very superficial understanding of these verses. Some of the things are completely ignored. In the name of “love,” followers of Jesus have been fooled into accepting certain ideas and behaviors, but if they do not accept them, then the accusation of "Hateful," or "Unloving," is hurled at them.
Again, look at the verses and notice the part that reads, “doesn’t rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth.”
Unrighteousness is sin. Affirming sin is never, ever considered loving. In fact, God considers anyone who does this a hypocrite!
Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor that which is evil. Cling to that which is good. Romans 12:9
Abhor means to detest. That is what God wants us to do with sin. He never wants us to affirm it. Anyone who has experience with young children will understand this. It's important to lovingly correct bad behavior. Parents won't reinforce it because it is not good. That is how God wants us to look at anyone who is caught in sin. Why would it ever be loving to reinforce bad behavior?
The problem Christians have today is that they do not have any answers for accusers when they try to stand up for what is right. For example, one of the biggest arguments is that everyone is a sinner, so what gives anyone the right to point out someone else’s sin?
Everyone is a sinner. But that is not the issue. The issue is what we do with our sin. That is what Christianity is all about. Believers understand that Jesus is love. And out of His love, He paid for our sin by dying for us and rising again. Those who accept this awesome gift ask for forgiveness and for help to overcome sin. This is what God wants for everyone.
…but He is patient with us, not wishing that anyone should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9
It is not hypocritical to call out sin. But we must call out all sin, ours included. (More on that in a moment.)
If we affirm someone else’s sin, how will they ever come to repentance? True love is sacrificial. If we really love them, then we will say what it takes for their good, even if we risk being rejected by them because they are worth it.
Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses. Proverbs 27:6 NIV
The Bible’s teaching about love is profoundly different than what is popular today. Love is not a feeling, it is a choice. If it weren't, then why did God command us to love others if we can't choose to do so? This may seem like a pretty tall order. But let’s look again at the description of love—patience, kindness, not envious, not braggy, not proud, etc. These are all character traits of love. The way to have love for others is to develop these traits in ourselves. If we do, then the natural outcome toward others will be love. We won't need to force a ‘feeling’ of love for anyone.
If we look even closer, what is the one trait that is right in the center of these things? It’s humility— “is not proud.” Pride is the beginning of all things that are contrary to God. This one bad character trait is what causes the lack of love toward others. In fact, there is not one place in the Bible that uses the word pride to describe God!
This is how Jesus describes Himself:
Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; Matthew 11:29
This means that using "pride" to describe ourselves is actually anti-God.
The lack of pride, or humility, will never allow us to look down on others who are caught up in sin. Humility helps us to understand that we are no better! We aren't perfect and never will be.
Brothers, even if a man is caught in some fault, you who are spiritual must restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, looking to yourself so that you also aren’t tempted. Galatians 6:1
This verse shows us that we are capable of sin ourselves. We are never to have a sanctimonious, holier-than-thou attitude toward anyone else. We should always call out our own sin! That is our right as human beings. We are to live as God commands, and we shouldn't care about what other people think of that.
Biblical love is in direct opposition toward the idea of love today. If we want to honor Jesus Christ, we Christians must learn to develop His character traits in our own lives, so we can develop true love for others.
That is what being a disciple of Jesus truly is.
In what way can you show love from 1 Corinthians 13 toward someone this week?