Love is a word that we hear very often within our society. Whether it is from a television show, from a spouse, a parent, or even on a billboard, it’s a word that is thrown about quite frequently in today’s modern world. With many, it is a term that may be taken for granted; it seems to have lost its significance to some people. However, as believers bound by the Word of God, we should hold this word to a very high standard. It meant so much to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ when He walked this earth; Therefore, asfollowers of Christ, and as those who are seeking to live every day for His glory, we need to make this word count. It is a vital aspect to our walk with Jesus; without love, we can do nothing for Christ.
Jesus knew exactly how to love others. When reading the New Testament from the New American Standard Bible (NASB), the word “Love” is mentioned 215 times (Christian Bible Reference Site), making it one of the centerpieces of Christ’s ministry. In John 15:13, Jesus tells us that “greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (NIV). Christ knew exactly what His mission on Earth was: To offer His life so that others will be saved through His blood on the cross. If there is anyone in history who knows more about Love than Christ does, I have yet to hear about it. Imagine this, if you will: Christ, after being stressed to the point of dripping blood upon the ground, was arrested by an armed guard, taken to trial, interrogated intensely, viciously beaten, spit upon, slapped, jabbed in the head with a crown of thorns, flogged almost to the point of complete disfiguration, made to carry a heavy wooden cross to His dying place, stripped of His clothes nailed to a cross, made a public spectacle for those who once claimed Him to recant their belief and openly mock Him, and after suffering for many hours, somehow found the strength to cry to Almighty God, “…Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do! (Luke 23:34).
That’s love. There’s just nothing like it. The eternal Son of God offering to give Himself up to the very ones He created for the sole purpose of saving us. It just blows my mind whenever I think of how Jesus Christ loves us.
It is beyond me to how Christ could love those who put Him through one of the most painful methods of execution to have ever existed. To me, that should be a motivating factor; most of us will probably never have to suffer for our faith to that magnitude. If Christ can show love in that condition, then how much more should we be showing love in our healthy condition!
So how do we show love? What exactly does it mean for Christians to show love? I believe that this process begins as soon as we become believers. In Colossians 3:12-14, the Apostle Paul is discussing characteristics of the “new man,” referring to the new creation that comes with accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior. In verse 12, he instructs his audience to put on “tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering.” When we realize that we have been chosen by God, even before the official foundation of the world, to become redeemed and a follower of the one true God, we need to practice tenderness (a heart of compassion), kindness (an unselfish spirit geared towards others), humility (lowliness), meekness (the strength to deny oneself and walk in grace towards all men) and longsuffering (patience under affliction) in order to develop a more intimate relationship with our creator. In verse thirteen, he goes on to say that we need to also bear with one another and forgive our brethren; Christ did the same for us on that cross. All of these qualities seem like wonderful qualities, but there is one more that is mentioned in verse fourteen that seems to be the chief of all of them: Love.
“But above all these things, put on love, which is the bond of perfection” (NKJV). The phrase “above all else” should stand out here. Love acts as a belt here; it binds all of these qualities together and keeps them close and interacted. These qualities described in verses twelve and thirteen would be to no avail if they were not first girded with love; we need to extend these godly fruits out toward others in hopes that they will catch the attention of people needing to be saved. As we reflect God’s glory through our actions of love, we can be a witness to those who need Him. Believers need to truly care about the lost; there’s no better way to do this than show Christ through love. As we know, God is love (1 John 4:8). God does not just show love, God is love. Everything God does is steeped in love. Everything that our Heavenly Father does is in love. Therefore, to show love to others, follow God as closely as possible and treat others as God would have you treat them.
How do we go about showing Christ’s love? I believe that the answer is found in one of the most famous chapters in the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13. Verses 1-3 cover most of the gifts that the early believers were given, such as prophecy, speaking in tongues, or the ability to heal. However, the reoccurring theme here is that if you have all of these amazing gifts, but do not have love, you are doing nothing for the body of Christ. Knowing all of the languages in the world will not profit you anything if you do not show love. In the early church, the apostles were given the ability to perform miraculous signs in Christ’s name, but yet we still see them showing love to those they are ministering to. Love is patient, kind, and humble (v. 4). Those who have love realize that they have a mission from God; their gifts are not of themselves. True love is courteous and considerate (v. 5). It endures slights and insults, and keeps no record of others’ wrong-doings. Love does not take pleasure in unrighteous acts that benefit oneself (v.6). This is contrary to human nature; therefore, the natural man may have difficulty thinking selflessly. Love does not publicize other peoples’ failures; people with love realize that they have plenty of things they need to work on as well (v. 7). It “always protects,” looking for the best and Godliest outlook on things/events, “always trusts,” “Always hopes,” “always perseveres,” enduring persecution and ill-treatment (v. 7).
We need to be compassionate. An unbeliever will never see the light of Christ if we do not go beyond ourselves and reach out to him/her. We show love to try to be like Christ; not to win a soul-saving contest, but because we love God and strive to be like Him. Forget that insult that an angry someone threw at you months ago. Always strive to be the kindest you can be, as unto the Lord. Be humble, realizing that you were bought with a price; Christ didn’t have to do that. Don’t be quick to publicize someone’s wrong-doing, but realize that each one of us has something that needs to be worked on. Always be considerate to those around you, seeking to build up whomever may be around you at the time. Love builds others up and wants the best for all. If we strive to treat others like Jesus did, with absolute unselfishness and with complete compassion, we are succeeding in showing love to others.
Additionally, an interesting point about love is found in verse 8. “Love never fails.” Love is an eternal quality; believers will go on loving the Lord for all of eternity. God loved us before we existed, He loves us now, and will love us for the entirety of eternity. Because it is an eternal characteristic, being a characteristic of God Himself, it is perhaps the most important aspect of our walk with Christ. We, as believers, need to demonstrate it with all of our hearts. When you stop to think about it, you realize that love, indeed, never fails.
Love is not a natural quality of sinful man. When we are born again, we are given God’s spirit to guide us through this world. One of the eternal qualities that we are supposed to show when truly born again is love. God is love. He gave His one and only son, Jesus Christ, to be killed by the very beings that He created in order to provide a way to Him. We, as believers, need to demonstrate this by our lives, in hoping to win souls for our savior, Jesus Christ.
Christian Bible Reference Site. “Word Counts: How Many Times Does a Word Appear in the Bible?” Word Counts: How Many Times Does a Word Appear in the Bible? Christian Bible Reference Site, n.d. Web. 16 Sept. 2014.
“Love.” BibleStudyTools.com. Salem Web Network, n.d. Web. 16 Sept. 2014.