“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” (1 John 3:16)
Scripture Reading: 1 John 3:1-14
We use the word love a lot, everywhere in fact. We love pizza. We love movies. We love our dogs. We love our cats. We love our parents. We love our spouse. We love our children. We love God.
Amazingly, we use the same word ‘love’ to describe how we feel about God – and pizza! Obviously there is a big difference between God and pizza, and there is an equally significant difference between what ‘love’ means in these two contexts.
In the oldest manuscripts of Scripture, there are several different Greek words translated as ‘love’ in English. For example, “eros” is a love which is highly physical and sexual. Then there is “phileo”, which is a type of love between brothers. There is also “agape”, which portrays the kind of love that God has for man.
Our simple English word ‘love’ fails to capture the full range of complexity and emotion conveyed in these more specific Greek words. Since our vocabulary does such a poor job of communicating the meaning of love, is it any wonder that our culture’s basic understanding of the nature of love is so muddled?
Man has discovered the meaning of “eros” love and “phileo” love but has not done too well in understanding and practising “agape” love – God’s love. To discover the true, eternal definition of God’s love we must turn to the Bible. There are two verses that help us understand the definition of God’s love. Interestingly, they have corresponding references, John 3:16 and 1 John 3:16.
The first verse tells us that God’s love caused Jesus to lay down His life for us. The second verse tells us that we express God’s love by similarly laying down our lives for others. There are three implications from these verses.
- The Essence of God’s Love is Giving
- The Focus of God’s Love is Always on Others
- The Motive Behind God’s Love is Unselfish
These three elements form our working definition of love:
God’s Love gives unselfishly to the needs of others, without regard to personal recognition or reward.
Extending love is mission critical and is the first distinguishing mark of the new Life God has given us. This love is fundamental to who we are called to be, and it is at the centre of how we are to act in our daily lives. This love is truly revolutionary and counter-cultural. This love changes hearts and minds. But without practical, tangible, observable action, this love will remain only words and a nice definition. The application of this love is impossible without the Life of Christ as its source.
The key is to tap into the source of Love – God Himself. When we experience God’s Love first, we can then respond with overflowing love to those around us. Godly Love is giving, and you cannot give Love unless you have received Love. God who designed us knows this and has poured out His Love in our hearts.
When we experience His Love, we are then able to love others.
— Ken Miles in Is There More To Life Thank Living? © 2016 Joshua Gordon Bookworks. Used by permission.
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