“Ye that love the LORD, hate evil: he preserveth the souls of his saints; he delivereth them out of the hand of the wicked.” Psalm 97:10
When someone says “love”, we get all kinds of pictures in our minds. Our picture could look something like this:
But! Is this really love? When the Bible tells us to love one another, what does it mean? Is it that “thing” that men feel when they see a woman (or visa versa)? Is it a fuzzy, warm, cuddly, feeling? No! It’s not. Love is a choice! Love is the fruit of a spirit that is walking in righteousness before God. Let us look at some descriptive verses to help our feeble minds understand what love truly is.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” Galatians 5:22,23
“Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” Romans 13:10
“Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.” Leviticus 19:18 Love doesn’t bear grudges or extract a “pound of flesh” from it’s neighbor, but loves them with as much love as she already and naturally has for herself.
“Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.” Proverbs 10:12
“The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” Jeremiah 31:3 (think of how longsuffering the Lord was with Israel, (and us too, for that matter) to forgive her time and time again! That is love!)
“For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? “ Matthew 5:46 Have you ever thought “Well, I CAN’T love them! I don’t like the way they act. or They don’t treat me with love. or They treat me poorly. Why should I care about them?” Just think about it.
“But love ye your enemies,” (He is going to tell you some ways to do that now) “do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.” Luke 6:35
“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” John 13:34 When was the last time that Jesus kissed you (like in that picture above)? So think. How does He love you? He shows you mercy, longsuffering, compassion… Keep going!
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13 Don’t think “jumping in front of bullets”… think: sacrificing yourself, your wants, your likes, your time, etc. for your friends.
“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 We are not God, so cannot forgive people of their sins unto salvation of their souls like He can, (though if they are repentant we mustn't hold anything to the charge of God’s elect, but forgive them.) But, we can forgive/overlook the sins of others against us.
“Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.” Romans 12:9 So, love is not dissimulating, and it cleaves to good and hates evil.
“Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;” Romans 12:10 We are to have a brotherly love for each other (this verse is assuming that you love your brother…) it gives us a way to show that love: Preferring each other over anyone else. (this is specifically talking about those in your local church body)
“And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.” 2 Corinthians 12:15 Paul says that love is laying down your life (spending yourself) for others. Even when they hate you while you are loving them! Yes, it is a hard place to be! But think of what Christ spent for thee, and how much you didn’t deserve it!
“Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.” 1 John 4:10,11
“If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?” 1 John 4:20
Okay, so, there are many more verses on love in the Bible! Total, there are 281 verses that have the word “love” in them. Some are telling about the good/righteous love, others about unrighteous love (or lust). Many marriages end today because people believe that love is a feeling. Churches fall apart for the same reason! Let us seek wisdom and knowledge to know the truth about love! Let us examine ourselves.
So then, in light of these afore quoted verses, we choose love! Alright: What should we do? How do we show our love for others? Here are a few practical points (not an exhaustive list) to think on. Then we can delve deeper into God’s Word to find instruction on how to continue in reformation and conformity to Christ in love!
- Pray for each other (Eph 3:14-19; 6:8; James 5:16)
- Greet one another with affection like close family (Romans 16:16; 1 Cor. 16:20) –friendliness, warmth, kindness. In one word: Charity
- Edify and build each other up! (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
- Prefer another and their things more than our own (Roman 12:10; Phil. 2:3-4) We should not be interested in talking about ourselves or doing our own thing, but about others.
- Easily part with all/any matters of liberty to please others (Romans 15:1-7)
- Commiserate/empathize with one another in sorrow and joy. (Romans 12:15,16; 1 Corinthians 12:26)
- Aim for perfection as measure by God’s standards
- Teach and admonish one another in all graciousness and charity (Pr. 27:17; Romans 15:14; Col. 3:16; Heb. 5:12-14)
- Forbear one another (Eph. 4:2; Col. 3:13)
- Forgive one another (Col. 3:13)
- Be gracious to all! (Pr. 17:27; Col. 4:6; Eph 4:29; Eccl. 10:12; Pr. 16:13; James 2:13; 1 Cor. 13:4-7; Phil. 2:3,4)
- Speak building and encouraging words and seldom rebuking or correcting words to each other (James 4:11; Col. 4:6)
Again, not an exhaustive list, just a start! Let us choose to love one another, brethren! This applies to husbands and wives, children and parents, siblings and church members alike! Lord help us all!
“Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:” 1 Peter 3:8