What is love? Who defines love? What does love look like? How does love grow?
So many questions like these rise to the surface as we begin our study through the fruit of the Spirit today. It’s impossible to capture all that Scripture says about love in a single blog post, but I’m excited nevertheless to address as much as I can. If you and I can walk away today with a better understanding of what the Word of God has to say about love, then that will be a success.
I want to share with you a few key verses that highlight this fruit of love, and my hope is to be able to draw some clear and very practical applications from them. Our goal far surpasses information alone. We’re after transformation.
- What is love?
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a
In these few verses, we are given God’s perfect definition of love. And why is it perfect? Because it is describing the love of Jesus Christ. He alone is the only One who is consistently all of these things. While these verses find a fitting environment at weddings, they are not a “how to” on love. They are talking about the “who” of love, and His name is Jesus.
- Who defines love?
“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:8
God IS love. Love cannot be defined outside of Him. He created love, therefore He determines what it is. Interestingly enough, His definition of love looks VERY different than the “love” that we see portrayed in the world. Love is not sex. Love is not passion. Love is not broken. Love is not fleeting. Love is not God. God IS love.
- What does love look like?
“But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
What does love look like? It looks like dying for someone else. It looks like sacrifice for the sake of others. It looks like “giving of yourself to meet others needs, whether they deserve it or not, and expecting nothing in return.” —Barb Wilson
That’s what love looks like. It’s not this distorted, self-serving, conditional counterfeit that the world keeps trying to feed us. Love looks like the cross of Jesus Christ—Him dying for our rescue.
- How does love grow?
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 5:1-2
If we want to grow in love, we fall in step with Jesus. We imitate His way of life. We do what He did. We go where He went. We spend time with the kind of people He spent time with. We walk in His ways. We love just as sacrificially and extravagantly as He did, even when it costs us greatly. We remain in Him. We abide. Because apart from Him, we can do nothing. (John 15:5)