By Ryan Shaw
The term “love” is increasingly used in our globalized society. It is a concept believers care deeply about.
Jesus describes our highest calling as growing in capacity to love God in increasing measures of heart, mind, soul and strength and as a result loving others as ourselves in this same increasing measure. We want to consistently grow in authentic, real, sincere love.
Yet, it appears there is great confusion surrounding this word among both believers and unbelievers alike.
Believers are made to think showing “love” means not raising a contrary opinion to the societal norm. “Love” is to embrace every person’s ideas, regardless of their Biblical basis. “Love” is to not make others feel uncomfortable.
Unbelievers accuse believers of not showing “love” because they refuse to compromise Biblical & moral truth. Because a stand is taken that not all ways lead to God, believers are branded as “intolerant,” lacking love.
As a result many believers are frozen, not knowing how to act as a believer in society. They are faced with a growing anti-God culture pressuring them to conform to their definition of “love” or be branded an outcast, radical, fanatic and even terrorist.
We want to return to the Biblical definition of love and see the vast differences between this and the world’s definitions. We are to base our “love” on God’s criteria and never the world’s.
Paul’s famous description of “love” in 1 Corinthians 13 provides an overview of authentic, genuine love as intended by God for all human beings to operate in while relating to one another.
Each of these characteristics completely embodies Jesus Himself. He is the incarnation in human flesh of the highest realization of “true and authentic love.” Our purpose in God is to take on the traits of Jesus Himself as we grow in His kind of love.
He was thoroughly counter-cultural, never worried about another’s opinion, willing to take a stand that was unpopular. He ruffled the feathers’ of the authorities of the day, until they crucified Him because of His uncompromising stand based in true love for God and people.
Jesus tells His followers in essence in Matthew 24: 9, “if you love like I love, you will be hated by all peoples, because of Me.”
We have no right to be foolish or unwise in our relating with others. We don’t want to give additional reasons, outside of obedience and faithfulness to the Son of God, to “hate” us. Simply being obedient and faithful to God will bring this backlash.
Let’s consider some of the traits of love given by Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:
1) Suffers Long – Love endures evil and provocation, without resentment or revenge. It possesses power over anger. It waits long to see the effects of such patience on others.
2) Kind – The main idea here is to be courteous. There is gentleness and freedom from harshness or severity in our dealings with others.
3) Does Not Envy – Love is not grieved at the blessing of others, their spiritual or natural gifts, qualities, honors, and even surpassing them in status.
4) Does Not Parade Itself, Nor Is Arrogant – Does not desire to be noticed or applauded but instead wishes Jesus to be exalted above all. Pride and knowledge breed self-importance, but love is humble and willing to be mistreated for God’s higher good.
5) Does Not Behave Rudely – Does not act in a way to deserve reproach. Love seeks that which is proper or becoming. It gives due respect in society and is free from acts of rebellion against others.
6) Does Not Seek Its Own – Love is only satisfied in the highest spiritual good of others. It is not focused on its own gratification. Its eyes are on others being spiritually awakened from a life of meaningless to purpose in God.
7) Is Not Provoked – The idea is to keep ourselves free of anger which causes us to want to get back at others. Though the world may be prone to violent anger, believers are free from such a response.