BY DUNCAN DOTSON
From Genesis to Revelation, the believer can read about love and its definition — and of a God who the Bible tells us IS love. (I John 4:16) The Bible’s mandate to love doesn’t end in the pages of our Bibles, though. It continues today in and through the lives of every child of God. We’re challenged to submit — not just to an emotion called love — but to an action of love that surpasses all understanding. Love is a verb!
Godly love was demonstrated for us on the cross, as Jesus prayed, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.” Now, that’s love! A love that would look at those who stone us and see beyond them and into the heavens and see Jesus. Bible precepts challenge us to love the unlovable. (Luke 6:35) That kind of love is only possible when we allow the focus of our love to be Christ Jesus and keep our eyes on Him, the Author and Finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). When we remember that we love God because He loved us first (1 John 4:19), that He loved us enough to call us “sons of God” (1 John 3:1), that Jesus loved us and died for us while we were yet sinners (Romans 5:8), and that God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son, how can we respond with anything but unbridled love for everyone?
The Apostle Paul delineated God-like love for us in 1 Corinthians 13. Often referred to as “the love chapter,” a favorite at Christian wedding celebrations, it tells us that Godly love is patient, kind, forgiving, humble, honoring, peaceable, truthful, trustworthy, hopeful, persevering, protective, unfailing, and selfless. Paul closes with, “And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13) It’s that caliber of love we’re called to share with a lost and dying world.
In Galatians Chapter 5, Paul describes for us of the “fruit” which comes to each born-again believer as they surrender to the Holy Spirit. It’s no coincidence love is the first fruit he mentions. Paul was reminding the Galatians then and believers today how important it is to God that His children demonstrate His love. He exhorts us to love our enemies and reminds us there’s no greater power than love. In our humanness, it’s not natural to turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:39), to be patient and kind, to love those who hate us and pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44), and to do it all without expecting anything in return. But God never tells us loving others will be easy. He promises us we don’t have to do it alone. The God who IS love will enable us to love in accordance with His instructions.
God’s Word shows us love has its place in the lives of the rich and the poor, the sick and the well, the hurt and those who do the hurting. There’s no limitation to God’s love. In 1 Thessalonians 3:12, Paul wrote, “May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you.” Paul was a man who had passion but did not yet understand the power of love. When we first meet Paul, in fact, he’s a zealot who mistook his religious zeal for a mission to destroy those who didn’t think as he did nor was born with the same gifting he was. Just like Paul, we must be reminded that our love grows toward God first, then toward all men. That phrase “all men” is inclusive of those who are different from we are and those who don’t know yet how to love. The hope in all we’ve learned is that it will grow (abound) more and more.
May the Lord richly bless you and wrap you in the love that comes through Christ Jesus, and may the overflow of that love touch the lives of many, as you’re reminded in the midst of the battle that LOVE NEVER FAILS.
Duncan Dotson is the Senior Pastor at Church of Prayer Christian Fellowship in Rockwall.