by Shawn Brasseaux
What is love? In today’s world, “love” seems so meaningless—it seems to have been swallowed up by hate and watered-down by commercialization. God engineered our souls to desire to socialize with others. By nature, we all seek to be loved and accepted; however, our nature is also sinful and selfish, and we seek our interests at the expense of others. What is love, and how and why should we love others? In this Bible study, we shall let God’s grace teach us about love.
Someone once defined love as “seeking another’s highest good,” and I would have to agree, but let us take it a step further. Love is best described in 2 Corinthians 12:15, where the Apostle Paul writes: “And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.” Sometimes, no matter how much you do for someone, and no matter how much you love him or her, the person will never reciprocate. Love is seeking another person’s highest good, even if it means at your expense, and even if means they ignore what you did.
The Apostle John writes to his Jewish followers (1 John 3:1): “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.” Why do we love the Lord? “We love him, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Ephesians 2:4-5 says: “God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)”
The grace of God paints a beautiful portrait of love. A rugged cross, crimson red, a most shameful and cruel place to die, a place where God the Son gave His life for us!! In John 15:13, the Lord Jesus said “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Romans 5:8 tells us: “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” When Jesus Christ died for us, the Bible says that He died “for the ungodly,” for His enemies!
Love is not just dying for your friends, but dying for your enemies too! Unfortunately, even after all the suffering Jesus Christ experienced to give us an opportunity to be saved, much of mankind could not care less. “For God so loved the world,” John 3:16 says, yet John 3:19 says “men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” Mankind is so evil that he even rejects his chance to be saved from the everlasting penalty of his sin!
As 2 Corinthians 8:9 KJV says, “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.” God loved us so much that He literally “spent himself for us.” Ephesians 5:2 speaks of Christ’s finished work on Calvary: “And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.” God the Father was so pleased with His Son’s sacrifice of Himself for us!! If you want love, look to the cross of Calvary! You will find no greater love than that, beloved!
God the Father loved His Son, and God the Son loved His Father (John 3:35; John 5:20; John 10:17; John 14:31; John 15:9; John 17:23-24). In fact, from heaven, God the Father looks down at His Son Jesus Christ on earth, and declares: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). God the Father wanted to save mankind, and God the Son loved His Father so much, He acquiesced (was submissive) to His Father’s will. He was going to come to planet earth and die for man’s sins. The love God the Son had for His Father motivated Him to fulfill His Father’s will and die on the cross of Calvary. “Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
God’s grace teaches us to be “spent for others,” to put other’s needs ahead of our own, just like Jesus Christ did. (Remember, this does not mean we should be doormats!!) “Despising the shame,” Hebrews 12:2 says, Jesus Christ went through the sufferings and the death of the cross for us! The Bible says in Romans 12:9-10: “Let love be without dissimulation. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;” “Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s wealth” (1 Corinthians 10:24).
Galatians 5:22 says that a fruit of the Holy Spirit is “love.” When the Holy Spirit works within the believer, He will generate love—the same love that all the members of the Godhead have for each other. It is a selfless love, a love that never changes or ceases to exist, a love that seeks another’s highest good. This, beloved, is the love of Christ, the same love that sent Him to Calvary!
The love that motivated Christ Jesus to go to Calvary is the love wherewith we love the Christian brethren (1 Corinthians 15:58; Ephesians 1:15; Colossians 1:4-8; 1 Thessalonians 4:9; Titus 3:15; Philemon 1:5; 1 Peter 1:22; 1 John 3:14). This is why Paul, James, Peter, John, and the other writers of Scripture would call fellow believers “beloved” or “dearly beloved” (Philippians 4:1; James 1:19; 1 Peter 2:11; 1 John 3:2; et al.). It is this love that causes us to love the lost people of the world.
This love of Christ “constraineth” (motivates, propels) us, as 2 Corinthians 5:14 says, and “should not henceforth live unto [ourselves], but unto him which died for [us], and rose again.” Galatians 2:20 says the Son of God “loved [us], and gave himself for [us].” This love of God produces “charity,” the outward working of love—charity is love manifested in deed. Charity is what the Bible calls the “labour of love” (1 Thessalonians 1:3). The love of Christ working mightily in us causes us to focus more on serving others and less on ourselves. When God’s love is operating in us via the Holy Spirit, we fulfill 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.
In Romans 13:8-10 KJV, we see the indwelling Holy Spirit empowers us believers to fulfill the demands of the Mosaic Law (which we could not obey in the strength of our flesh):
“8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.”
We see a similar concept taught in Galatians 5:13-16: letting the love of Christ dwell in us, enabling us to love others in the same manner. We can get on each other’s nerves, yet Ephesians 4:2 says “forbearing one another in love.” That is, put up with (tolerate) one another for love’s sake!
The Bible says that Jacob loved Rachel so much that he worked for her father Laban in exchange for her hand in marriage. “Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her” (Genesis 29:20). Laban tricked Jacob, so Jacob actually worked for a total of 14 years (Genesis 29:27). Still, all those years “seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her.” No matter the price, Jacob was willing to be spent for Rachael’s hand in marriage.
Now we apply that to Jesus Christ. In His foreknowledge, He could see the horrible death awaiting Him. He knew of the beating, the shame, and the torment He would feel in His physical body and in His soul. Yet, like Jacob loved Rachel, and spent himself for her, the Lord Jesus went through the sufferings of the cross because He loved us, and He loved His Father.
Two of my favorite verses are 1 John 4:8,10 KJV which tell us: “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love… Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” Ephesians 3:19 says the love of Christ “passeth knowledge.” We cannot even begin to imagine how much God Almighty loves us! Just remember, the Lord Jesus Christ loved (and still loves) you with a love that surpasses everything we will ever know in this life.
After all, the grace of God paints a bloody portrait, in that the Son of God, on the cruel cross of Calvary, allowed Himself to be spent for others! By faith, will you walk in your identity in the Lord Jesus Christ, and allow yourself to be spent for others, also?