Christian Love - Christ's Commandment
What's at the heart of Christian love? Jesus said, "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:35). John, inspired by the Holy Spirit, once wrote, "We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death" (1 John 3:14). And "by this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome" (1 John 5:2-3).
Christian Love - Not a Feeling, a Lifestyle
So, what do these scriptures regarding "Christian love" really mean? Is it a warm fuzzy feeling? I don't have a warm fuzzy feeling for everyone I meet, Christian or otherwise -- does that mean I'm not saved? No, a "warm fuzzy feeling" is not the biblical definition for "love". So, what is the Biblical definition for love? Let's search the Scriptures and find out…
A Pharisaic lawyer once asked our Lord, "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?" Jesus said to him, 'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets." (Matthew 22:36-40)
According to Matthew's Gospel, the very essence of the Law and the Prophets is to love God and to love others. And we see this term "the Law and the Prophets" used in one other place in Matthew's Gospel. It's in this passage that we find the Biblical definition for love: "Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets." (Matthew 7:12)
Would you want your wife to commit adultery? Would you want someone to murder you or to murder someone you love? Would you want someone to steal from you, lie to you, covet your possessions? Of course not! So don't go and do these things to other people! Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, commands us to "owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, 'You shall not commit adultery,' 'You shall not murder,' 'You shall not steal,' 'You shall not bear false witness,' 'You shall not covet,' and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law." (Romans 13:8-10)
In Luke's Gospel, Jesus elaborates on this "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" principle. He says, "Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise. But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful." (Luke 6:30-36)
Christian Love - Selfless & Giving Love
Christian love is giving to others those things that you would want them to give you if you were in their situation -- and it's doing so even if they can't pay you back. In fact, it's doing so especially if they can't pay you back! Christian love is respect for others. It's mercy. It's charity.
When the King James translators came upon the Greek word agape (God's Love), in addition to using the English word "love" to transliterate it, they often chose the English word "charity." This was meant to reinforce the idea that agape is a selfless, giving love. God's Love is unselfish and unconditional. Now we know what is meant by Christian love. Now we know what to strive for…