We hear a lot about what the world says love is in February. However, for those of us who have believed in Jesus for the free gift of eternal life, have the Holy Spirit living within us, with a desire to imitate the love of our Captain, we must look to the Word of God. From Scripture, we can know all about love: what love is, who to love, how to love, why to love, what our motivation to love is, and when to love.
In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul encourages the church to "pursue love” (1 Corinthians 4:1). In Greek, the word pursue means to aggressively chase with haste. What a great reminder those words can be for us every day!
...love is of God...God is love1 John 4:7-8
Love is who He is, His character, what He is known for, and what He does. It does not come "naturally" from our flesh. To be able to imitate Christ and love others, we must ask the Spirit to help us!
...love the Lord your God...love your neighbor as yourself...Mark 12:30-31
How do we love God? Jesus says in John 14:15 that if we love Him we should keep His commands, which are not burdensome (1 John 5:3) and are fulfilled when we love one another (Romans 13:8). So then, who are our neighbors? They are the people God has placed close to you - the people in your home, those you go to school/work with, people in your local church, and strangers you meet in everyday life. They are our fellow believers (brethren/one another), and they may even be our enemies. To sum it up, we are to love God and love everyone!
...serve one another through love.Galatians 5:13 CSB
Over and over in the Word, we are told that God loved us so much that He gave: God gave His Son; Christ gave His life. We can imitate God and walk in love as Christ did (Ephesians 5:1 - 2). We can give sacrificially of our time, of the money God has entrusted to us, and of the material blessings in our possession. We are not to love with words only but with works (1 John 3:18), through love serving one another (Galatians 5:13). Jesus teaches us that we should serve: we should do for others even those things they are capable of doing for themselves; things that may not seem like much; things that seem ordinary and mundane even; things that humble us; things that we may not enjoy doing. These acts of brotherly love show that we honor and give preference to others (Romans 12:10).
With the Spirit's help we can love as Christ loved us: He laid down his life for us (John 15:13 and 1 John 3:16). I really appreciate what Zane Hodges had to say about laying our lives down for others in his commentary on 1 John. He equated it to sharing what we have in order to sustain life for others. Isn't that a powerful image of what it means to share?!
We can be encouraged to continue in love when we remember how deeply He loved us first. Also, we can look ahead to the day when our works as believers will be evaluated with a longing to hear "well done, good and faithful servant" (Matthew 25:23).
God, through Paul, tells us very plainly... "Let ALL that you do be done in love" (1 Corinthians 16:14).
We can apply these to family, friends, neighbors, those in authority over us, and our enemies...
When we turn to God's Word as the authority on love we see a very different story than what the world wants us to believe. May His truths encourage us to pursue love all the days of our lives!