“In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:9-10) The definition of love has as many variations as the number of people asked to define it. So what does scripture say? What does God say love is and how can we know it in a world tainted by sin and darkness?
Scripture distinguishes human love from the love of God, the latter being perfect and the former, while a glimpse of God’s love, impossibly perfect due to the nature of sin’s existence. It is important to recognize our inability to experience the fullness of love apart from Jesus, who removes sin and allows us to see love clearly and fully. That is why Christmas gives us one of the most impressive displays of love and also makes a way for us to know and experience love.
When we have a complete understanding of love, perfect love displayed for us in God’s gracious giving of His Son, the outpouring of love upon others is not only justified, but starts to become instinctive. We love because He first loved us.
John emphatically states, “God is love!” The source of love is God Himself. Without God, we have no basis for love and no ability to love. The ability for us to experience God’s perfect love is made possible only through the coming of Jesus. Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection are evidence of the power of God’s love to overcome sin and death, to overcome all earthly forces, and to overcome all human emotion.
Consider the nature of God’s love, exemplified in Jesus. God’s love is self-giving and sacrificial; He gave Himself on our behalf (John 3:16). God’s love given to us when we do not deserve it (Romans 5:8). God’s love is eternal (Jeremiah 31:3). God’s love is life changing (1 John 4:16-21). Nothing can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39).
We must always remember that our capacity to love is fully and completely dependent on the grace of God. We must be careful not to define love solely on our human ability to choose it or decide upon it, yes that is an important part of it, and we must choose to love. However, this would, in fact, leave love at the mercy of our ability, which is never the fullest potential for love. So yes we are called to choose love but also we must depend on God’s grace. We must ask God to help us love, for Him to love people through us. This Christmas as we celebrate God’s love for us let’s pray and ask God to produce that very fruit of love in our lives.