What is love? Would you know it if you experienced it? Is it only love if it feels pleasant and positive, or does love also include the painful and uncomfortable?
In Part 1 of the series, I discussed how God’s love is a love that both frees us from the burdens of perfectionism and legalism. His love also holds us together by wise boundaries and rules for living. These are not rules that remove our freedoms, but rather ones which teach us how to love.
Our Abba exemplifies the greatest love that has ever existed. He has paved the way for healthy relationships and the conditions that ought to exist for true love to emerge.
From His example and the explanations laid out in scripture we can gain better clarity on what it means to be loved by our Abba, why we can love ourselves without shame, and how we can extend that love out to others freely.
Sisters, I pray that this post and others fill any holes or confusions in your heart to help you to connect and embrace our Abba’s love for you without restraint. The enemy loves to twist love and corrupt that which is truly holy.
What is love? Let’s see what our Abba has said.
What is Love?
As we go about our days, we are constantly bombarded with little snapshots of love carefully crafted by the eye of some producer/director/photographer. These images and ideas are always incomplete. They leave the hollow spaces of our emotions to fill in the gaps with expectations and grand imaginations.
They leave us wanting.
Some ideas are romantic. Some overtly sexual. Others might be sentimental. And on the variety goes.
The problem is that it is so easy for us to develop a picture in our mind about what “love” is like without ever checking our idea against scripture for clarity.
I suspect the most well-known scripture on love is 1 Corinthians 13:4-8:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
Right here in this pivotal scripture we are given a LOT of action words; verbs. LOVE is a verb. It is not a feeling, or something we fall into. Love is not a hormonal attraction, or a feel-good event.
Godly love is a series of everyday choices and disciplines that treat others and ourselves with a particular set of kindness. It is not a noose of bondage to keep us under reign. Rather, criteria for real love, Godly love, helps us to discern if something we or someone else is doing is “loving.”
Satan Loves to Twist of Godly Love
There is a disturbing trend where one partner in a relationship takes a controlling stance in the name of “love” and becomes the dictator of all that is good. In this sense one person’s perspective takes preeminence over the others, and there begins a master/slave-like relationship.
Friends, in the Body, there is no pre-eminence. No one person is more valuable than another, nor is one opinion to be held in higher esteem.
The words of Paul penned above in 1 Corinthians 13 directly followed the revelation of various gifts and components of the Body. He then elaborates to remind all of us that love is not about who is more important, but rather that all of the parts of the Body are equally important and critical.
In order to answer “what is love,” we must recognize that the answer is only found in Godly love.
Godly love is based on MUTUAL affection, respect, self-sacrifice, and allegiance.
It is never a one-sided relationship as a slave and master. Instead, it is a friendship where both individuals nurture and honor each other over and over again.
If you are one in a slave role, it IS loving to stand up and speak the truth in love to confront the person who acts unloving and reveal to them your feelings and any sin that may exist.
If you struggle with lording yourself over others, and prioritizing your own thoughts above everyone else, I encourage you to repent. Seek the Lord for wisdom and clarity on how to walk in mutual love with others.
In the Body there are many pieces, and it is our job to learn how to love through understanding, patience, gentility, AND Truth.
A healthy relationship ensures that both people can speak freely in love and share their thoughts and opinions kindly. Love is no longer leading the way when one person’s voice is silenced.
God LOVES to Show Us Love
Love might seem confusing at first, especially if you have been under the veil of the above mentioned twist of the Truth. Thankfully, though, scripture helps to bring clarity to the complete picture of Godly Love.
Godly Love is based on a mutual understanding of behaviors as determined by His Laws as guide (Exodus 20: 5-6).
Our Abba is full of the character that supports love: compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, faithful, trustworthy, forgiving, just (Exod. 34:6-7).
True love is forgiving of the faults of others, and hands over the results of misbehavior to God. (Lev. 19:18).
Godly Love is a covenantal love with pre-determined behaviors attributed to such love. He clearly lays out how He will treat those He loves and who stay in relationship with Him. (2 Chron. 6:14).
The Love of Our Father is a Love of Mutual Delight
God does not approve of abuse or delighting in doing harm to others. His love is gentle, and never harsh (Psalm 11:5).
Our Abba is resilient. He is not easily pushed away from our mistakes and human flaws, yet He protects us from those who would love to condemn and harm us (Ps. 59:16).
The beautiful Love of God is a love that allows us to make mistakes and still recover from them (1 Peter 4:8). We do not experience sin and sorrow in Godly love, but rather the opportunity to be forgiven and separated from our sins as far as the east is from the west (Ps. 103: 11-12).
Love is not something that sugarcoats the Truth, but speaks the Truth in love. When we receive Truth spoken by others and are able to speak it in love ourselves, we are experiencing the marks of maturity. We must be wise to discern Truth as laid out in the Word.
…speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” ~ Eph. 4: 15-16
Love is not simply something that can be proclaimed in word, but never shown in action.
[bctt tweet=”Love must be expressed in both kind and gentle words AND deeds.” via=”no”]
Quite the opposite. Instead, it is by our actions that we reveal the Love that resides within us (or the lack thereof) (1 John 3: 18, James 2: 18).
And truly, SO many more.
What is Love? Love is a Verb
Love has been confused and twisted. Our Abba, though, wants to bring us clear truth so that we may shine His TRUE love into the world.
Love is not devoid of Truth. Godly Love confronts unholy or unhealthy behaviors, even when it is uncomfortable.
It is not used to placate to emotional immaturity. Instead, it is to be the tool that calls out the hidden things of immaturity. Addressing our issues it what allows us to grow and emerge as spiritual adults.
Abba, may these words help us to live out Your love and be Lights in this dark world. May Your Word provide clarity to help us discern when we are confused about how to show love in various situations.
Help us not to be scared to speak the Truth in love, but rather to trust You when we are called to speak, and leave the results up to You. May we be humble in spirit to hear and receive Truth when it is spoken to us.
Grow us, Abba. Amen!