Yes, February has passed by along with Valentine’s day and all it’s festivities, but I hope the “love” shared and displayed hasn’t faded either. In this post I’m going to talk about a 4 letter word that is most important in the life of a Christian. This word isn’t FAITH or HOPE, I’m sure you could have guessed by the post title – it is LOVE.
You may have come across the verse in 1 Corinthians 13:13 – “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” Love is greater than both Faith & Hope, really!? FAITH is the foundation and content of God’s message, HOPE is the attitude and focus, LOVE is action. When faith and hope are in line, you are free to love completely because you understand how God loves. Paul says “though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:2) Having the highest degree of faith without love is nothing. Without love, genuine hope cannot exist. Is it possible to hope (long for or have a desire) for something you don’t love? I don’t think so … Therefore unless faith and hope are coupled with love they are dead.
It’s no surprise that love is a keyword in the 2 greatest commandments: Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40). I want you to draw close attention to verse 40. What’s love got to do with it? Rather than focusing on all the things we shouldn’t do in the 10 commandments, we should channel our focus onto what we should do. That way we are looking at God’s Laws in a more positive light. I’ve heard some people use the above passage to support the opinion that we are not required to keep the laws of the old testament. However, if we love God we are naturally going to obey the first 4 commandments which deal with God ( vertical relationship). Additionally, the remaining 6 are centred on our relationship with one another ( horizontal relationship), if we love one another we are going to think twice before stealing, lying or murdering them. As I mentioned earlier the greatest commandments have a central theme. So verse 40 can be read as “All the Law and the Prophets hang on Love”. Love is the fulfilment of the Law, love enables you to keep the Law.
Horizontal and vertical Love is what the cross is all about. Firstly, you come to the Lord and then you share or display that same love with others. Therefore if you do not have vertical love, you will not be able to display horizontal love. Let me use a song I sung at primary school to explain this concept; “Love is something if you give it away, Give it away, give it away. Love is something if you give it away, You end up having more”. You’ll agree with me that you can only give away something that you possess. So, in order to love and be loved completely we need to love ourselves first. In Matt 22:39 Jesus says: You shall love your neighbour as yourself, if a person doesn’t love him/herself, this command amongst all others becomes very difficult to follow.
Then again, you might have self-love but find it extremely difficult to love those neighbours who have carved wounds so deep you think they can’t be healed. You develop love through trial, by surrounding yourself with people that are difficult to love. Falling in love with God for example may not be at first sight, it takes time. The love you have for God develops through strain and the trials of life, if we persevere real love muscles eventually develop.
So I ask again what’s love got to do with it?
At the centre of Christianity is love, the greatest sacrifice in history was done because of Love. Love is a practice that our Saviour embodied. Through love we may do good deeds, care for our bodies and possess a desire to help humanity. Love involves unselfish service to others. If our lives are full of quick-fix, feel good approaches to our fellow humans instead of intentional and purposeful responses to God’s unselfish love, we have failed to understand the meaning of the gospel. God’s love is evident throughout the bible, it governs the actions and decisions He made and continues to make. And finally, God is love.
No matter what I say, no matter what I believe, no matter what I do, I am bankrupt without love.
I love this song called “The Proof of Love” by King & Country, please listen to and meditate on the lyrics.