The world loves to love. Every TV show, movie, magazine, and commercial tells us that all types of relationships are healthy and good. Whether it’s the young couple who live together before marriage or the man who cheats on his wife with his beloved mistress, everything is acceptable as long as we invoke the word love. And to support this belief, the world actually quotes Scripture: “God is love.”
This must be the most-quoted verse in the Bible, but what does it mean?
The world would define this verse in one of three ways:
God is love — God is a big softy. Like a sweet old grandfather in the sky, God will welcome everyone into Heaven in the end, regardless of their beliefs or how they lived.
God loves — God loves when we love, regardless of who, what, or how we love.
Love is God — Whenever we love someone or something, we are being godly, and our actions are holy.
Many people have come to worship this easy-going-but-not-holy god of the all-encompassing modern love. But what does the Bible mean when it says, “God is love”?
What the Bible Says
Let’s look at this in context:
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him” (1 John 4:7-9 NAS).
“Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world” (1 John 4:15-17 NAS).
Let’s break this down:
- Jesus is the embodiment of God’s love for us.
- When we believe in Jesus, we believe in God’s love, and God dwells within us.
- Love—true, real, honest-to-goodness love—comes from God within us.
- God’s love gives us confidence that we are part of His family.
- There will be a day of judgment, but we’ll receive mercy because of Jesus and His love.
- As believers, we should love God and one another.
And how do we love God?
“For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:3-5 NAS).
The love God gives us is apparent in our lives when we observe His commandments. The result of that love is that we overcome the world through faith in Jesus.
Breaking the Idol of Worldly Love
The world has created an idol out of modern-day love, convinced they can do no wrong when love is involved—or at least their definition of love.
But the Bible’s definition of love is different. It’s the kind of love that pinned Jesus to the cross for our sake, and the kind of love that brought Him up from the grave. It does not exist without Jesus. It’s sacrificial. It’s often painful. It’s you-first-and-me-second. And it’s meant to be enjoyed within the bounds God set for us in His Word.
It’s true that much of the Gospel can be summed up in the simple statement, “God is love.” This week, I encourage you to read 1 John 4 and meditate on its words. Make sure your heart and your actions are in the right place by praying something like this:
“God, thank you for your love. Please help me to see if I’ve made an idol out of worldly love and, if I have, please forgive me. Help me to love you, not just with my heart but with my actions. And help me to love others as you love them. In the name of Jesus, Your blessed Son. Amen.”
“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails…” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a NAS).
Do you find these words challenging or comforting? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Leave a comment below or send me a message. God bless you this week!