God Is… Love

Yesterday, lovers of all ages acknowledged and celebrated their love for one another in honor of Saint Valentine’s day.  Once again this year, flowers, chocolates, cards, and dinner together topped the list of purchases of couples for this event.  It’s the thought that counts, right?  However, what do these gifts reveal about our love for one another?  Compared to what love truly is, these gifts are all fairly cheap and cheesy!
Regarding romantic love, the female lover in Song of Songs says this:
Song of Songs 8:6-7
6 Place me like a seal over your heart,
like a seal on your arm;
for love is as strong as death,
its jealousy unyielding as the grave.
It burns like blazing fire,
like a mighty flame.
7 Many waters cannot quench love;
rivers cannot sweep it away.
If one were to give
all the wealth of one’s house for love,
it would be utterly scorned.
This morning, we continue to commit to know God by diving into the depths of who He is.  After all, God is love!
Now most of us are aware that there are actually four different words used in the New Testament Greek with different meanings that all translate into our one word, love.  This morning, we’re not going to focus on that, however.  Whether speaking of our love for our spouse or the one we are dating, our family, our friends, others, the church, or Jesus, that love should possess many of the same qualities.
As we proceed through the message, please keep this in mind.  When I refer to a lover or the one that we love, that could in reality be a romantic lover, but could also be a friend, a family member, the church, others in general, or even God, Himself.
Love defined by Merriam Webster is:
Love – a score of zero in the game of tennis
🙂  Well, true, but not the definition that we’re looking for…
Love – unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another
Love, by definition, is all about the one that I love and not about me.  The essence of love is selflessness.  This stands in stark contrast with how many in our culture view love.  Though we may not admit it, this reality is revealed the moment that I am inconvenienced by the one that I love.  The moment that I no longer receive a benefit from the one that I love, but rather have to sacrifice something for the one that I love, my true intent in that relationship is revealed.  Do I truly love?
Is my love as strong as death, jealousy unyielding as the grave, burning like a fire that cannot be quenched by many waters?  When someone else comes along and offers me what my lover is not giving, would it be scorned or would it be considered?
Romans 12:9-11
9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.
Us, as followers of Jesus, should be ones who possess the sincerest love found in all of creation.  In fact, Jesus said:
John 13:34-35
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Everyone will know that we are disciples of Jesus by our love for one another.  Why is it that the church is being overcome by the world instead of the world being overcome by the church?  I believe that it boils down to this revealed truth; our love has grown cold.
This is one of the signs of the nearing end times that Jesus spoke of.  Many will abandon their faith, betray each other, hate each other; their love will grow cold.
Matthew 24:9-13
9 “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.
Jesus isn’t asking us to do anything that He hasn’t already done.  In fact, Jesus is only asking us to love each other as He has loved us.
John 15:9-17
9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.
None of us should be unaware of how Jesus loved us.  He lived in complete humility and served the needs of others before His own.  He trusted His Heavenly Father to meet His own needs as He did the work that He was called to.  This was such a firm reality for Him that He even said that this was His daily bread, to do the will of His father.
God is love and that love laid down Himself completely for us, a people who were completely unlovable and completely undeserving of His great, unfailing love!
Philippians 2:1-8
1 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!

Jesus said:
1 John 4:7-21
7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

These are very strong words of Jesus.  God is love and He loved us first.  Because He has loved us, we now can love others with the love that He has freely given us.  If we claim to love God and yet we can’t even get along with our brothers and sisters in Christ, then we are liars.  Those aren’t my words, these are the true and faithful words of Jesus!
Just to clear the air and eliminate all of the justifications and “but, God”‘s, Jesus also said:
Matthew 5:43-48
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be holy, therefore, as your heavenly Father is holy.
Yes, even those to persecute you and drive you up a wall, you are to love.  After all, we are being asked simply to love others as Jesus loved us.  We drove Him not only up a wall, but up a cross!
Romans 5:5-8
5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. 6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
God demonstrated His love for us by dying for us.  None of us deserved this great love, but Christ counted us worth it!  Love, in its truest and purest form, is not demonstrated with words such as teaching and preaching.  Love, in its truest and purest form, is demonstrated by the laying down of one’s life for one who is entirely undeserving of it.  Do we really love others as God has loved us?  If we do not, our lives are being lived in vain!
1 Corinthians 13:1-8
13 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, 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.
This morning, we’re reminded that God is love.  God can’t help but to love because it is the essence of who He is.  His love is unfailing, boundless, and eternal.  We, however, have to choose to love.  God is challenging us this morning to love others with the love that He has freely given us.  Our love is to be as strong as death, jealousy unyielding as the grave, burning like a fire that cannot be quenched by many waters.  When enticed not to love others, and given every reason not to, will that temptation be utterly scorned in light of God’s love toward us, or will we embraced it and withhold our love?
God encourages each of us this morning with this: don’t let your love fail others because His love never fails!  Now, go love someone this week!
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