Love is a huge and permeating theme in the bible! According to Bible Gateway, the word love is used 471 times in the bible.
So today let's talk about LOVE....
First let me say that LOVE is such a huge concept that it cannot be fully explained here in this post! Not even close.
But to begin to understand love we must first understand that
GOD IS LOVE!
God is the source of love, and it is God's whole and perfect character!
Love is God's moral character... the way He relates to man. He relates to us though love!
Without God there would be no love!
Before we go any further it's important to distinguish what God's love looks like.
1 John 4:16 says...
And 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.
The word for LOVE in the original Greek is Agape (ah-gah-pe'). It is a word that is exclusive to the bible.
Agape love is unlike all other forms of love. It is a love that is benevolently bestowed to the object of that love. It is a love that has nothing at all to to with "feelings" for the love object, but rather it is a love that is really in spite of the love object.
It is a sacrificial love. It is the "lover" bestowing good will, esteem, favor and benevolence on the "lovee". It is all about the lover or the source of love and has nothing to do with the behavior, worthiness or character of the love object.
Agape love is a decision. It is a conscientious, eyes-wide-open, no-matter-what kind of love. It is not human love... not even a little bit!
Agape love is all about sacrifice!
A good way to understand Agape love is to read the passages around the GOD IS LOVE verse.
The very best example of Agape love is seen in versus 9 and 10.
By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God sent His only begotten Son into the world so 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.
Let's break these magnificent passages down...
God, the source of love manifested... showed forth so we could see, made love clear, brought it out in plain view and clearly showed us what real love was...
By the act of sending His only begotten Son... by sending Jesus who is God in the flesh to this world.
God sent Jesus because man... all humanity... all of us... every single one... was so lost and defiled and sinful and depraved and in darkness and so full of hate and fear... and we really did not think about our state.. we did not know or care that we could never find their way back to God and dig themselves out of the miserable pit the had made for themselves. Even though we have all turned our backs on God and have chosen for ourselves a path that would lead to death and separation from God, God decided to send Jesus, whom He LOVED to show us the way back to Him and life. But in loving us the cost for God's love was costly beyond what we can think or comprehend!
In doing so, God knew that He had signed Jesus' death sentence. He knew that Jesus would have to shed His perfectly holy blood to make propitiation for our sins, because we could not do it for ourselves.
The word propitiation carries with it the idea of satisfying a debt. It means to make amends and pay a price that brings peace between two parties that are warring against each other. Once the debt is paid there can be peace.
Jesus was the price that brought us back to God. God in the flesh died and paid the price for bringing us back into a right relationship with God.
This is love... this is agape... this is God!
But God demonstrates His own love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
God's love... agape... is sacrificial. It costs Him. He is the one who sacrifices for the well being and favor of the object of His love... sinners!
AMAZING LOVE... isn't it?
Is it possible for humans to love that way? Yes, it is possible... but only for those who believe that Jesus is who he says He is and has done what He says He has done. It is possible for those who acknowledge that they are sinners and that their own rebellion has caused them to be far away from God. It is possible for those who bow down before Jesus and declare Him their LORD... their Creator and OWNER of their lives! It is possible when God Himself dwells in us in the form of the Holy Spirit and begins the work of changing us...a work we could never do ourselves!
It is impossible to love, to truly love without the Holy Spirit of God himself!
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
1 John 11
Can you imagine what Valentine's Day would look like if we liberally spread Agape love to all we meet?
Now that would be a celebration of true LOVE!