The opposite of love is not hate; the opposite of love is selfishness.
To make that point I go to the beginning of the world’s most famous Bible verse, John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave …” Love is the giving of one’s self to someone or something else. This definition can be exhibited in various ways, the giving of time, resources, devotion, care, and, as in the case of God’s Son, the giving of life itself. There are millions of ways we can express love, all of them require a giving, a sacrifice, if you will, of ourselves.
Love is also a choice. God did not make a human race of robots. With every commandment, there is our decision to obey it. Example – God tells us not to lie, but every time we open our mouth we have the option of being honest or not. Now then, since Jesus said the two greatest commandments are to love God and our neighbor (Matthew 22:36-40), and every commandment comes with a choice, then we can conclude that love is choice.
How does our love stack up? God gives several love tests throughout the Scripture showing us love in specific areas of our lives.
Are you a disciple of Jesus Christ? The answer to that is not found in how much you love Jesus, but in how much you love your fellow Christian. John 13:35, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” Remember that Christian brother that stabbed you in the back? Lied to you? Yes, whatever he did that was done, he was not acting in love toward you, but that does not release us from God’s command, in fact, it makes that command stronger.
In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said, “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven … For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same?” (Matthew 5:44-46).
We can also apply the love test to the words we say. 1 Corinthians 13:1, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.” We can talk all we want, our choice of words can be eloquent, but if those words are not backed up with actions, they are only noise. How many women in this world have heard the words, “I love you” but have experienced few, if any gestures of love?
A side note here, to make a point about love – 1 Corinthians 13 has been commonly known among Christians as “the love chapter” for centuries. However, the word “love” does not appear in the King James translation of this chapter. “Charity” is used nine times in the 13 verses. There is a reason for this; God does not want us to look at love the way the world does, as an emotion. God believes love is an action, an action that is defined by God with the words, “For God so love the world that He gave…” Praise God that His love for us is more than Him feeling sad about our sinful condition. Glory be to God for the love that He has for us that sent His Son, the Lamb of God, to be the sacrifice for our sins.
Lastly, there is a love test for our love of God. Jesus said in John 14:15, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” God is the creator of the universe (Genesis 1:1). He is holy (Isaiah 40:25). He is just and the Justifier of sinners (Deuteronomy 32:4; Romans 5:9). It is God we will stand before in final judgment (Psalm 96:13; Ecclesiastes 3:17). It is God that had formed us in our mother’s womb and had a plan for us since before He created the world (Jeremiah 1:5; Ephesians 2:10). All of these facts and more give God the right to make the rules; hence the 10 commandments instead of the 10 suggestions.
With all that He is and all that He has done for us, God has shown us His love toward us on a constant basis. Even the tribulations that come our way and the discipline He sends from time to time are a result of His love for us (Romans 5:3-6; Proverbs 3:11-12).
God deserves our love and devotion. He is the Sustainer of the universe, so there is not any material thing we can give Him. But there is one thing God has given us we can give back to Him, and that is how we show our love to Him. He has given all of us a will, the freedom to choose; to choose or reject His love toward us.
Do you want to love Him? How do you show that love? Repeating what Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”
Preacher Johnson is pastor of Countryside Baptist Church in Parke County, Indiana. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: www.preacherjohnson.com. E-book: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00TUJTV2A If you email, inform me where you have seen Preacher’s Point. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.