What is Christian Love?
What is Christian Love?
Often times as Christians, or for people whom are regularly around Christians, we may hear the term "Love" repeatedly. This may be in many different contexts, it may refer to love for a spouse or family member, as well as a friend, fellow Christian, and even a complete stranger. Below is what this authors humble opinion of the Apostle Paul's explanation of love, what love is, and what it is not, and how it may apply to us today.
1Corinthians 13:1-3 ESV "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing."
In today's society there are many examples of hollow "sacrifice." Friends and family whom say they are "sorry," but there failure to repent shows that their words are merely "clanging cymbals." Actions that people take in public, for recognition, such as a politician kissing a strangers baby as a photo opportunity, or a wealthy person extending charity to someone who is less fortunate, but doing so publicly, in order to draw media attention are prime examples of impure acts of "love." Is this really love, or just away to inflate ones self image, and draw good publicity?
- Regardless of what we may say, it is not our content that may or may not make the difference, but the spirit, or reason for which we are communicating.
- Why? How often have you wondered why someone is doing something? Ego, selfish ambition, public recognition (like the Pharisee), or is it out of love?
- Is it truly self sacrifice, or are they being the proverbial "martyr?"
Now that Paul has laid out what love is not, or at least why it is not love if the motive is not "pure", he spells out what TRUE love is:
1Corinthians 13:4-8 ESV Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.
Love. Love is what should set Christians apart from the "world." Throughout Scripture, love is mentioned NUMEROUS times. When Paul was explaining "love" to the Church at Corinth, he was talking about love as an action, not as an emotion. When you read through the passage above, he does not speak of love as something that you have to "fall" into, or be "born" with. Love is either a positive action (or attitude) or the failure to react with a negative action (or attitude). Love is selfless, if you are loving, you cannot be preoccupied with yourself, you must think of others before yourself.
- One example of true love (be a bit of an extreme example) would be someone who donates a kidney to someone else. This would be a selfless act, but it would be an even more serious act of "love" if this person was a complete stranger.
- Someone who embodies Christian love would never be happy to hear of tragedy in any ones life. Regardless of the lifestyle or relationship that the "loving" person has with the individual who is suffering, they would only be concerned with helping them improve their situation.
- A loving person never gives up, they are forgiving, and they have an insatiable desire to seek out the truth, regardless of the pain the "truth" may cause. (Much like parents whom repeatedly are taken advantage of by a child with a substance abuse issue. That's love.)
The Bible speaks repeatedly about Love, below you will find a number of versus that are "easy wins" when it comes to more fully grasping the concept of Christian love.
Matthew 5:44, 5:46, Mark 12:31, John 3:16, 13:35
See also Agape (Love in Greek)