Monday, February 14, 2011

Mental Vitamins: The True Meaning Of Love

Today is Valentine's Day and it's central theme is love. But what is the true meaning of love? Sure we love our parents, we love our family, we love our friends and we love our spouse and if we're lucky we experience that love in return. But no matter how much we love someone or how much we think someone loves us, it could never compare to the love God has for us. The fullness of His love is immeasurable. It is a love that surpasses any and all ideas of love we may have. God is love. (1 John 4:8) So in order to fully know love, we must first know God. 

Love defines His character. Because God is love, God is everything love is. For instance, love is patient and kind (I Corinthians 13:4-5). Therefore, God is patient and kind. The first three verses of I Corinthians 13 clearly demonstrate that the list of attributes in verses 4-8 applies to God, and not as a list of behaviors we must attempt to manifest in order to make ourselves like Him. These verses state that even apparent spiritual gifts and acts of great charity will gain us nothing unless we "have" love. It's not that we must "do" love, or "feel" love, or "act" lovingly, but that we must "have" love. God is love, so if we have God, we have love and actions will follow to the extent we give God freedom to act.

Jesus defined the greatest love from a human perspective, in the gospel of John: Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)

Jesus Himself fulfilled this greatest love by dying for us so that we could be forgiven of all our sins and have fellowship with God:  But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

God's love is revealed to us and to the world by Jesus, who gave himself for us, dying for our sins so that anyone who believes in Him may be saved. (John 3:16-18; Romans 5:8; Ephesians 5:1-2; I John 4:9). God's love is also revealed to us and to the world in the way the natural world which He created provides for human needs in spite of human sins. (Matthew 5:44-48). God reveals his love to the world in our love for each other. (John 13:34-35 & 17:20-23; 1 John 4:19)

This example of the extreme love comes only from God and is free to those who choose to follow Jesus Christ. If you are not a Christian, I hope you desire to express love as defined in the Bible. However, wanting to do so and attempting to do so in the power of your own will is guaranteed to fail. This kind of love is only possible through relying on the power of God, through faith in Jesus Christ. Even if you are a Christian, you will not succeed if you do not abide in Christ. May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the constancy of Christ.

I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:16-19)

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