Defining Love

What is love? When someone says, “I love you,” what is that saying to you? When a brother or sister in Christ says to you, “I love you,” what do you believe that should mean? And, what does it say to you when they say it but their actions speak just the opposite? Lastly, what do the scriptures say about how we are to love one another?

Philippians 2:1-4 ESV

“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

To Encourage

What does it mean to encourage someone? It means to inspire, stimulate, motivate, arouse, uplift, cheer, comfort, support, hearten, reassure, advise, admonish, insist, exhort (urge strongly), appeal, incite, and to persuade.

And, these are all the many ways in which Jesus Christ encourages his own, too. For, encouragement is not all fluff. It is not all pats on the back saying everything is going to be ok. Sometimes it means that we have to say the hard stuff, too. And, it isn’t always going to make us feel good inside, either.

But, encouragement needs to come from hearts which are united with Jesus Christ and with his mind (his thinking), with his heart for people, and with his compassion and sympathy, too. And, it needs to not come from selfishness, but from a pure heart which truly cares about others above our own selves, and above our own self-interests.

For many people feel they are being encouraging when they tell others what they think will make them feel good, whether what they tell them is the truth or not. But, lies are never kind. And, they help no one. We need to speak the truth, but to do so with God-like love for one another.

Encouragement in Christ, thus, is selfless. It thinks about what is truly best for other people based upon what Jesus Christ considers is best for us, not what humans determine is best. For humans are prone to think with the flesh rather than with the mind of Christ. So, we need the counsel of God in our own lives before we can encourage others with his counsel and comfort.

Comfort and Love

As well, this word translated “comfort” has the same meaning as that of “encouragement.” And, if it comes from God’s love, then it also prefers what is holy, pure, righteous, kind, considerate, honest, fair, just, and moral, etc.

And, it will consider others above ourselves, too, but with the mind of Christ and his heart, not with minds and hearts of the flesh. And, it will not do anything to harm another, either, i.e. it will not be mean-spirited, spiteful, dishonest, back-biting, cursing, unjust, thoughtless, careless, or selfish.

For, to love others as Jesus loved us, is to first of all be united in mind with Christ and with the way in which he loves us. It is to consider first what he values as important. It is to regard others’ legitimate needs above our own, and above our own reputations, too.

True love also looks out for what is in others’ best interest, i.e. for what is for their best, i.e. for what is God’s best for them, not what we think is best for them in our own fleshly reasoning.

Participants in the Spirit

So, the only way in which we can love others with this kind of love is that first of all we need to be participants in the Spirit of God. This means that we take part in and join in with the Spirit of God and with his working in our own hearts and minds in conforming us to the likeness of Christ.

And, we do this through God-given faith in Jesus Christ which submits to his Lordship (ownership) over our lives and which follows him daily in obedience to his will and to his ways which he designed for us to follow.

For, if we are going it in the flesh, doing things our way, thinking with the flesh and from hearts given over to our own selfish desires, there is no way we are going to have the mind of Christ or his love for others or his compassion.

Instead we will think with fleshly minds and we may end up even encouraging what is evil and fighting against what is truly good; supporting those who do evil and yet attacking those who truly are doing good.

Also, we have to be surrendered to Jesus Christ, daily giving our lives over to him, dying to sin and self, and following his lead. For, if we don’t love God, then we cannot truly love one another (1 Jn. 4:20-21; 1 Jn. 5:2).

Philippians 2:5-11 ESV

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Love is humble

True love is humble, too. It does not demand or insist on its own way. It is not self-seeking. It does not trade tit-for-tat. It is patient. It is kind. It is not arrogant or boastful. It is not rude. It does not malign others. It is not easily angered. It is not irritable or resentful. And, it does not delight (rejoice) in evil (wrongdoing), but it rejoices with the truth (1 Co. 13:4-6 ESV/NIV).

Love also serves one another out of a pure heart. It cares about others and what they are going through. It takes interest in their lives. It listens to what they say (with the heart, and not just with the ears). And, it responds with the wisdom of God and a heart of love and compassion. It looks beyond what lies on the surface or how things may appear, and it asks for the mind and heart of God to see others as HE sees them.

And, it is obedient to Jesus Christ even to death. For, if we love our lives more than we love God, then we don’t love God, and we are not called according to his purposes. If we obey the Lord, we do what his Word teaches us we must do, and we don’t make up our own rules or follow our own reasoning, but we ask for the wisdom (the mind) of God before we act.

Love submits to God and to his purposes. It follows Jesus and his ways. It asks to be led of the Spirit of God and to know the Lord’s will. It wants to know the truth and to follow what is true, and to not follow after the lies. It repents of all sin and forsakes all idols, and it removes from one’s life all hindrances to faithful obedience to Christ.

And, it no longer loves the world of sin, for we can’t love God and love sin, too. But, it lives separate (unlike, different) from the world unto God, and it walks in his holiness and righteousness, living to please him, not self, and not other people, but only as is pleasing to God.

A Believer’s Prayer

An Original Work / July 31, 2012

With my whole heart, Lord, I pray
To be Yours, and Yours always.
Lead me in Your truth today.
May I love You, and obey.
Lead me in Your righteousness.
When I sin, may I confess;
Bow before You when I pray;
Live for You and You always.

Love You, Jesus, You’re my friend.
Life with You will never end.
You are with me through each day,
Giving love and peace always.
You will ne’er abandon me.
From my sin You set me free.
You died on that cruel tree,
So I’d live eternally.

Soon You’re coming back for me;
From this world to set me free;
Live with You eternally.
Oh, what joy that brings to me.
I will walk with You in white;
A pure bride, I’ve been made right
By the blood of Jesus Christ;
Pardoned by His sacrifice.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

10 thoughts on “Defining Love

  1. Your prayer is beautiful. You asked at the beginning what is love, and defined through scripture what godly love looks like in a believer’s life. I learned love through learning to love the unloveable, at least by human strength. Loving as God loves is not withholding what someone needs when in it is in our power to give it, i.e. the gospel.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, Donna!! All glory to God!

      Truth be told, we are all unlovable at times. At least, others may see us that way, even though God loves us.

      Amen to what you said about loving as God loves, and also to what you said about loving those we may perceive to be unlovable, by our human standards. It is learning to love unselfishly even when we don’t “feel” love for others. Then, the feelings usually do come, but not always.

      But, it is amazing what God can do, not only in other people’s hearts, but in our own hearts and lives, when we determine to love as God loves, unselfishly, even those we have a hard time loving.

      Liked by 1 person

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