Understanding God's Definition of Love
“Love means doing what God has commanded us” (2 John 1:6a NLT).
If we’re going to do a whole devotional series on love — and, more importantly, if the Bible says it needs to be so central to our lives — let’s take a few moments to consider what love really is.
1. The Bible says love is a command.
God commands that we love each other: “Love means doing what God has commanded us” (2 John 1:6a NLT).
You can’t always control an emotion, and God would never command you to do something that He doesn’t give you the power and the ability to do. That means that love is not a feeling. Imagine seeing a little kid who’s crying and upset, and saying: “I command you to be happy! I command you to stop crying!” You simply can’t command someone to feel a certain way.
2. The Bible says love is a choice.
The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 14:1, “Go after a life of love as if your life depended on it — because it does” (The Message). If you “go after” something, that means you make a choice. Love is a choice. We choose to love or not to love.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had men or women who are trying to justify a separation or divorce say, “I just don’t love my spouse anymore” — as if that’s totally out of their control. But acting in love when you don’t feel like it is actually a higher level of love than when you do feel like it. It’s one thing to love when the flowers are in bloom, but the real test of love is in the winter, when things are not going great in your life. You choose to love in spite of how you feel and give the other person what she needs, not what she deserves. You choose to love others like God loves us.
3. The Bible says love is a conduct.
Love is something you do. The Bible says, “Let us stop just saying we love people; let us really love them, and show it by our actions” (1 John 3:18 TLB).
Every day, God puts opportunities around us to demonstrate love. The problem is most of the time we’re too busy. How many times have you thought, “I need to make a call; I need to encourage that person at work; I need to help my neighbor,” but then you missed the opportunity because something else came up? Love takes advantage of opportunities to serve others.
4. The Bible says love is a commitment.
The Bible says in 1 John 4:16b, “God is love. If we keep on loving others, we will stay one in our hearts with God, and he will stay one with us” (CEV). Our relationship with God is largely affected by our relationship with other people. If we commit to love and stay in love, then we will keep in one with our hearts with God, and He’ll stay one with us — because God is love.
Talk It Over
-- What attributes of God’s love can you try to apply to your relationships?
-- “You can’t always control an emotion, and God would never command you to do something that he doesn’t give you the power and the ability to do.” How can this truth encourage you when you’re trying to love difficult people or in a difficult time in your life?
-- What does it mean to be “one in our hearts with God”?
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This devotional © 2017 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.