Love, a very big topic in humankind. One study says 67% of all songs that exist are related to love. Why should the topic of love be so important that stands out among so many hundreds of things people wrote songs about? The Illinois newspaper Daily Illini named 3 reasons. Painful, Universal and Powerful. Yes, love is a big part of our daily lives. We need common love, and familiar love and God has made us to desire and be fulfilled in love between a husband and wife. Everyone needs some measure of love to survive. Many depressions and sicknesses are the result of love starvation. We are certain that love is good and is an essential necessity.
Love is hard to measure without involving a price. A big diamond ring, a costly gift, an inconvenient act of kindness, time spent, forfeiting one’s own choice to defer to the loved one’s choice. We may say, it is hard to make those sacrifices without true love. The more one is willing to give up, the heftier that love is registered. Your appreciation for the love will be in proportion to the price the other paid to give you that love. True high-priced love is great!
Everything goodness in human beings came from God’s nature, including love. Yes, love is from God, and it is a part of God’s nature. Human’s capacity to love and the desire to receive love was from God’s decision at creation. Human beings were designed to share a measure of God’s image. Love is one of the many beautiful capacities we were built to be like God. When we give and receive love, we live out God’s nature and reflect that beautiful aspect of His image in us – which pleases God.
Though many people use 1 Corinthians 13 to teach about love, especially at weddings, Paul was not deliberately choosing to address the topic of love there in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8; especially not about love in marriage. Paul was really addressing the lack of love in the church that was filled with the problem of self-centeredness and pride. In passing, he listed some signs or qualities of love:
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
Love always involves more than one person. It is fun and satisfying when the two sides are responsive to each other’s loving initiations and responses. It is like stirring up a whirlpool in a cup. If the effort of stirring is stopped, the water will eventually come to a stop. When each person acts responsively to each other’s initiative, the whirlpool will go on well. If one decides to resist or stop responding positively in a loving relationship, love will wither and die. This understanding is so important, especially between husband and wife. Love makes the world go round, and the world goes round and round well when proper love is generously shared.
In our relationship with God, He is the one who stirred up the love right from the beginning. His purpose is to bless humans with the enjoyment of being loved and the exercises of giving in love, and no less importantly that He will also enjoy our love for Him. We love Him by trusting Him and in gladness and faith, receive His gifts and what He says to us. We can love Him by obedience, appreciation, thanksgiving, serving Him, seeking opportunities to give Him honour and praising Him.
Even the spirit of the 10 Commandments should be understood through the concept of love – loving God and loving our neighbours. The 10 Commandments are the only formal instructions given to humanity for guidance so man can walk with God in the right way. God gave this perfect instruction once and forever needing no update. He had instructed, guided, warned, and called His People to return to it, to repent by it, and will judge human beings by this same guidance. The way He wants was summarized in Deuteronomy and by Jesus’ own words followed up by the Apostle’s words – to love God with all that we are and have and love our neighbours as ourselves.
Loving God means we honour Him with glad, eager willingness. We honour Him by submitting ourselves to His instructions, giving time and thoughts to Him, keeping Him in our minds and hearts, gathering to confess and proclaim His worthiness (Worship) and pledge to be His servants in everything we do (Stewardship). The common love God commanded for us is to hold an attitude of equality when we relate to others (Fellowship). We are to treat them like how God will treat them – with grace and understanding, patience, kindness, etc. Love fulfills the Law. By exercising love for God and common love for our neighbors, we are on the right track walking with God and fulfilling the requirements of God’s way.
Love is something very spiritual. We are not to demand love. When we receive love, we should appreciate and be thankful. We are called to love and never deny it from those whom God places around us. When we love people by God’s will, we fulfill God’s purpose. Love is a spiritual action we take from our hearts offered to God and a living sacrifice (worship) bringing a blessing to the one who receives it. We honour God and bless others when we love. Thus, the best motivation for us to love others should be because we feel God’s love in us. Loving God makes God happy. And loving people also makes God happy too. Let us show love to every one by God’s will!
By Enoch Kwan
Minister & Author of Cultivating a People for God