What is Love?

I John 5

Our parents are a very important part of our lives, and it is a blessing to have earthly parents who are godly and care for us. But not everyone has such parents. Nevertheless, John says that everyone who “believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God” (v. 1). The greatness of that reality cannot fully be expressed in word. Figuratively, God has “given birth” to us as a parent gives birth to children. God is now our parent! And he is unlike any earthly parent. And since we have been born into God’s family, we are to love all of God’s children, for they are our brothers and sisters.

But what does it mean to love our brothers and sisters in the Lord? As John states, it is “when we love God and obey his commandments” (v. 2). What this means is that our expression of love within God’s family stems first and foremost from our love for God and our willingness to submit to his authority and obey his commandments. That might not be the way that some of us look at what it means to “love” one another perhaps because we have contrived an idea of what love means from our culture rather than from Scripture.

There’s no question about it, John gives us a clear definition: the love of God is that “we keep his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome” (v. 3). Certainly, to love God entails many of the things we conceive of when we think about what it means to “love.” In his letter to the Colossians, Paul gives us a list of the commandments of God that we are to obey as his children:

…but now you too must put away all these things: anger, rage, malice, defaming speech, obscene talk out of your mouth. 9Do not lie to one another, since you have stripped off the old self with its practices….12Therefore, as God’s holy and beloved chosen ones, put on bowels of compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience; 13bearing with one another and forgiving each other, if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord forgave you, so you also must forgive.” (Col 3:8-9, 12-13)

Many of these behaviors probably fit into our box of what “love” looks like, but our world is filled with contradictions and disagreements about how to practice it.

But John reassures us that we need not succumb to the pressures of the world when it comes to how to love, for as God’s children, we have overcome the world through our faith in Jesus, the Son of God (v. 5). Let us live with love that comes from a heart of obedience that is willing to surrender our desires to the Creator, knowing that if we love him properly, then we will love each other as well.

-Jerry Wierwille

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway.com here – Hosea 7-8 and 1 John 5

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