*NOTE: Hey Mountain Goats! This is one part of a whole series about the Fruits of the Spirit. If you haven’t read the introduction post yet, you can do so here!
“Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.”Proverbs 3:3-4
“Love” is a word thrown around a lot these days. We hear it in our songs. We hear it from our friends and family. We even use the word “love” to describe our morning coffee or favorite late-night dessert.
It seems, with how much “love” we throw around, the world should be a very lovely place to live.
But it’s not. Not really.
Wars are being waged, crimes are being committed, even within the Christian community hate is continually being spewed and spread, infecting minds and slandering God’s good name.
It’s almost as if we have forgotten what “love” really means… or did we even understand it’s meaning to begin with?
Love is a Four Letter Word
What comes to mind when asked to define what “love” means to you?
Do you define it by items or acts? By feelings or sacrifices? Can “love” even be truly defined by modern words, as some would say “I love you more than words could ever express!”
The Oxford dictionary defines it as “an intense feeling of deep affection; A great interest or pleasure in something; A feeling of deep romantic or sexual attachment to someone/thing.”
These definitions are a perfect example of where society has strayed from the true and honest meaning of the word.
The true definition of “love” is defined for us in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7:
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
A truer definition of love has never been written or spoken, at least not one I’ve ever seen. Love isn’t just an intense feeling. It isn’t just something we say when we like something, or feel passionate toward a person.
Love is about sacrificing selfish wants and desires for the salvation of others. It’s about understanding others, wanting to guide them towards good, and teaching them how to choose right over wrong.
It isn’t forceful. It doesn’t push or prod. It’s simply there when called upon, always ready to lend a helping hand.
There are many believers who don’t fully understand this concept, or confuse it to be reserved only for specific groups of like-minded individuals.
Do NOT fall for these false truths taught around the world within the Christian faith. God has commanded us to love eternally, extending that love to each and every soul that walks the earth.
“Let all that you do be done in love.”1 Corinthians 16:14
We are called to be perfect, as God is perfect (Matt. 5:48), to love unconditionally, and serve others so that we may all enjoy in Christ forever.
To act in love is not our only calling, however. We must also recognize its meaning when used as a noun.
God as Love
Love the noun is, in essence, another name for God. God is love. And through Love, we can do all things.
“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.”1 John 4:16
The biblical definition of “Love” still stands here. If we replace the word “Love” with “God,” we are given a beautiful look into the character of God and what it truly means to love:
GOD is patient and kind; GOD does not envy or boast; HE is not arrogant or rude. HE does not insist on its own way; HE is not irritable or resentful; HE does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. GOD bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Through His word, guidance, and numerous examples, we can strive to love and be perfect like Christ.
Love in Practice
The Bible has many examples exemplifying God’s love for us and all of creation. The greatest and most widely known example of this is represented in John 3:16:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
This sacrifice of life and body itself displays just how deep God’s love is for us. We should all strive to have a love that strong. This can be achieved by applying 1 Corinthians 13 to our everyday life.
- We must be patient with our brothers and sisters, believing that no matter where they are in their journey, the Holy Spirit will guide them forward when the time is right (Philippians 4:6).
- We must show kindness to everyone, even those who would look to do us harm (Matthew 5:43-48).
- We must be happy for the advancements in others lives, and not become jealous. On the opposite end of that, we should not flaunt our own successes in the faces of others. While it’s okay to feel good about and celebrate the good things that God graces in our lives, it in no way makes us better than any other person in the eyes of God (Jeremiah 9:23).
- We should always be humble, never insisting on our own way. The only way we should ever insist on is God’s way. Only His way is truly pure and good (Psalm 28:7).
- We should never praise a bad deed. No matter what perceived good has come from it. Even something as small as a lie should be seen as a sin to be corrected (Matthew 7:17-18).
- We are meant to stick behind God through all of life’s pain, hardships, and woes. We are never meant to stop loving our brothers and sisters, no matter how many times they betray us, hurt us, or ignore us, just as God has never left us when we’ve committed these exact sins against Him.
So long as we keep our trust in Him and our minds focused upon His will, His love will come naturally.
“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”John 15:12
Love is a constant that will never diminish so long as it is true. As Christians, it is our sole duty to love constantly, consistently, and thoroughly with as much intensity as we possibly can. Only through love can we ever hope to save our fallen world.
With Love on our side, there is nothing we can’t do.
A Prayer for All Us Mountain Goats
Lydia here! My prayer for you all, for myself as well, is that we could truly realize the impact of God’s love. I pray that we can realize the sacrifice that made God’s love so much more evident, and realize how undeserving we are, and how beautifully merciful God is. I pray that God’s love fills us so full that we overflow with love for Him and for others around us. Most of all, I pray that you know how much God loves you.
D. T. Yates
Christian, Content Editor