Big idea: Real love is revealed in the cross.
What a chapter to begin a new year!
I ran a search on Google: “What is love?” The top results, from places as diverse as Psychology Today and E-Harmony and are uniform only in their error. The first result from a Christian perspective is 23 items down, under a yoga website, two Jewish ones, a collection of literary quotes and many which I would not repost here (or anywhere else). Wikipedia says: “Love encompasses a range of strong and positive emotional and mental states, from the most sublime virtue or good habit, the deepest interpersonal affection and to the simplest pleasure.” Not exactly Shakespeare. UrbanDictionary.com defines it as, “Baby, don’t hurt me, Don’t hurt me, no more.” Aish.com, a Jewish website, says, “Love is the attachment that results from deeply appreciating another’s goodness.” I am grateful that God does not use that definition, O wretched man that I am.
A genuinely Christian understanding of love must reckon with its supreme expression: Christ’s sacrifice. The cross teaches us that love is not based on the character of the loved, but the lover. Without this kind of love, any good works, special wisdom, or even miraculous deeds are simply garbage. Even acts of “charity” to the point of giving up our life or giving all of our possessions to the poor can be loveless and therefore worthless. In God’s eyes, love is both heart and action. It is my whole person devoted to your whole person.
Sometimes we try to get by with a cheap definition of love. I once spoke to a pastor’s wife who believed that she loved anyone she did not hate, and did not hate anyone she did not desire to go to Hell. The Bible will not accept such frivolity. Jesus wants you to love like He loved, and that love gives all that we say and do its significance. That kind of love is patient, kind, rejects sin and rejoices in truth.
Discussion Idea: Who is someone that loves you? How do you know? How can you show love to another person? If you put your name in place of the word “love” in today’s chapter, would your parents or spouse believe it? What about your coworkers?
Prayer Focus: Praise God that He taught us to love by loving us.