In the world and even in the church today, there are different thoughts on what real love is. The world usually thinks of love as a strong feeling of affection. Many dictionaries will also agree that love is a warm or strong feeling of affection.
Biblical love is quite different.
LOVE DEFINED Jesus often defined and described this real love.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” (John 13:34)
Jesus did not tell the disciples to go and live according to the old Moseic commandment, but rather he gave them a new commandment. In other words, we will not find the model for this love in the Old Testament.
Many Christians misunderstand love, and think that avoiding any ill words or actions prove that they are walking in love. We often think that as long as we don’t kill, don’t steal, don’t bear false witness, and otherwise follow the Old Covenant – we are fulfilling what God wants us to do.
But Jesus had a higher calling in mind.
Bible scholars define real love as “Love, whether used of God or man, is an earnest and anxious desire for and an active and beneficent interest in the well-being of the one loved.” (ISBE)
REAL LOVE IS ACTIVE Because this love is different, Jesus not only gave us this new commandment, but had to practically show us what this love is like. He said “just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”
“but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom 5:8)
“For God so loved the world,[a] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
New Testament love is active. When we were sinners, God did something for us. Sitting passive and idle and claiming to feel love from someone isn’t Godly love. Godly love will always take action. When God loved us, he did something for us.
LOVING THE UNLOVABLE Christian love is shown regardless of the other person’s behavior.
“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” (Luke 6:27-28)
So often I hear of Christians who have had a conflict, and one party will explain how they have forgiven, but they will have nothing to do with the other person. This isn’t love. Love will take an active part in the well-being of the other person.
Often, in my own life, when ill feelings towards others start to show, I have made it a practice of praying for those people, asking God to bless and to prosper them. And I have found that when I consistently pray for people, even feelings will change to where I want them to do well in life.
JESUS EVEN GOES FURTHER “So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” (Matt 5:23-24)
Here, it is not just about us having forgiven the other party. But if the other party has something against us, it is our responsibility to initiate action, go to them and do something in order that the relationship be fully reconciled. In a difficult relationship, the one who initiates reconciliation will almost always be the more mature person.
There are many cases where I could sense another had something against me, or there might be a relationship that used to be closer, but over time has drifted apart. Often, I will initiate contact with these people, maybe do something for them, or at the least speak words that assure them I am still their friend. This habit has saved many relationships and often brought restoration. Living life as a peacemaker is a wonderful life.
CONCLUSION Real love isn’t about how we feel. It is about having a genuine interest in doing what is best for the well-being of the other person.
Christian love is not refraining from retaliation when someone does us wrong. Christian love will respond by forgiving, praying for and doing good to the other person who has done us wrong.
When we learn this live according to this pattern, we become Christ-like, our lives are full of peace, and we will also reap what we sow in this area. ... See MoreSee Less
God never intended for us to live the Christian life in our own strength, nor did he intend that we worship him with exercises of the mind.
The Old Testament law was given to people who were not filled with the Spirit, and they were instructed to serve the Lord with “all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” In the New Testament, our whole being is still involved in serving God, but we have the Spirit in us, who gives us the power and ability to do so.
Peter said of the Old Testament that is was a burden that “neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear.” (Acts 15:10) Paul wrote that the law was “a guardian until Christ came.” (Gal 5:24) but strongly warns them to walk by the Spirit and not try to follow the law with the strength of their flesh.
Proper New Testament living is a lifestyle where we trust Christ and His work on the cross to make us right before God. We depend on Him instead of depending on our won works. This gives us the ability to come boldly to God’s throne for fellowship. Jesus said of the New Testament that “true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and in truth”
And as we fellowship with Him, we are filled with the Holy Spirit. Having begun the Christian walk by the Spirit, we need to continue by the Spirit, and not fall back to depending on the law. It is this fullness of the Spirit that empowers us to live as God intended us to live.
The New Testament contains plenty of warnings to avoid sin and admonitions to live right (Gal 5, for example). Yet, it was never to be an exercise of the flesh and the mind to avoid these things and live right, but rather, we are to be filled with the Spirit through fellowship with the Father. When one is saturated by the Spirit, the desire to live right will be so strong that it becomes a natural result of our relationship with Him. In other words, we will live right if we take our eyes off the commandments and rather place our faith and focus on Christ. ... See MoreSee Less