Love is —what, exactly?

If there’s anything that’s important in life, it’s LOVE.

Here’s HOW important:

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”

Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

– Matthew 22:36-40

So we had better focus on it. We best make sure we know what it is and that we’re ‘doing it’ and ‘doing it right’. 


From the following verses, Love seems to be the magic ingredient without which an action, no matter how grand or spectacular, becomes worthless or worse:

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.  And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.”

– 1 Corinthians 13:1-3


But love is not just a magic transforming ingredient. It also appears to have some kind of Identity:

“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

1 Corinthians 13:4-7


And it appears that Love will be the ‘last man standing’ at the end, when all else is swept away:

“Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.”

– 1 Corinthians 13:8-10

And it looks like Love is something that we mature into, something that we are expected to grow into, the mark of maturity:

“When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

– 1 Corinthians 13:11-13


Love seems to be the identifying characteristic of God— and therefore of his children— Christians who have His Spirit:

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this 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 also ought to love one another.


“No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.  And we have known and believed the love that God has for us.

God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.”

– 1 John 4:7-16

And lastly, at the end, after our death and transformation into the next world, Love looks like ‘just the ticket’ for the situation in which we will find ourselves:

“Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us.”

– 1 John 4:17-19


And one last clarification, just to be sure we ‘get it’. [God means business here!]

“If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.”

– 1 John 4:20-21

So… Love appears to be something that we better get right in this life, the magic ingredient determining the value of all our actions, easily identifiable, an integral characteristic of God, the ‘last man standing’ when all else is swept away, the mark of Christian maturity and Godliness, and our ticket in the next world.





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