We hear the word love used a lot today, particularly in the context of eroding moral absolutes. Love is basically equated to tolerance and tolerance to acceptance. If you disagree with someone’s perspective on almost anything you are accused of failing to love them; or to put it more pertinently, you are guilty of hate. Here are four Biblical maxims on love:
• True love puts God first: Matt 22:37, “Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” We were made in order to love God but due to original sin we naturally love the creation rather than the Creator. Christ died that we might be restored to God in right relationship.
• True love is principled: 2 John 1:6, “This is love, that we walk according to His commandments” If God is our supreme love as He should be, it means that we will be supremely concerned to do His will. Love is more than a feeling we have for other people; it is a commitment to obeying the One who made us.
• True love does not equate to acceptance: Matt 5:43-45, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ 44But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust”
The basis of love is not accepting one another’s ideas or lifestyles, but in a shared humanity as those made in God’s image. If we love and obey God as we should, we will not accept practices which contradict His Word. We will however love people who engage in such practises. This means praying for them and interacting with respect and kindness.
• True love speaks up: Col 4:6, “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt……” Love does not go looking for a fight but neither is it concerned to maintain peace at all costs. People need to hear the truth about sin and judgement and the mercy of God in Christ; and as we have opportunity we should care enough to make these truths known. Silence can be appropriate, but it can also be wrong when we fail to love our neighbour and thus neglect our responsibility toward him / her.
Let us love one another, for love is of God (1 John 4:7). This means loving as He intended for He defines what love is and how it is to be expressed.