Love is a foundational part of the Christian life. One essential characteristic of God is that He IS love. 1 John 4:8 says, “God is love.” That’s far more than saying that God loves. God is the very embodiment of love. God loves with an infinite, eternal love. We read in Jeremiah 31:3, “The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I HAVE LOVED THEE WITH AN EVERLASTING LOVE: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” God is love and God loves!

Let’s consider the words of 1 Corinthians 13:13, “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but THE GREATEST OF THESE IS LOVE.” (NKJV) Faith and hope are also vital to the believer, yet love is greater? Why is that? Faith and hope are both temporary for us. We have faith in the existence and love of God. One day we will see Him and we will not need faith anymore. Indeed, faith will give way to sight. One day, those things that we hope for in the Lord will be realized in our lives. We will enjoy all those things we hope for now…and hope will vanish. However, LOVE will last forever. Throughout eternity we will enjoy and share the love of God with all the saints in glory.

2 Corinthians 5:14 tells us, “For the love of Christ controls and compels us.” (Amplified Bible) For the believer, we know the love of Christ, and it controls our thoughts and actions. With our eyes fixed on the Lord, we are able to love Him and put our lives into His hands to lead us each day. Ephesians 5:2 says, “And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us…” We should ‘walk’ or live our lives in response to the immeasurable love of God. In Galatians 2:20, the Apostle Paul speaks of his blessed savior. He says “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, WHO LOVED ME AND GAVE HIMSELF FOR ME.” Herein in the key. We can say that Christ loves the world. We can say Christ loves the sinner. But until we can truly say that “CHRIST LOVES ME!” we have not really experienced the love of God.

The identifying mark of the believer is not knowledge, or even service. It is when we love one another. The Lord said in John 13:35, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” The Lord wants us to extend that love beyond just loving fellow believers. In Luke 6:27 He instructs us, “Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you.” The Lord longs for us to love Him beyond all others. He tells us in Mark 12:30, “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.” Certainly the Lord has earned our love. In fact, we read in 1 John 4:19, “We love him, because he first loved us.” The Lord has loved us without cause. There is nothing in us, nothing we have done, that has deserved the love of God. All we rightly deserve is the wrath of God! We ALL have sinned against Him and “the wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23) Yet, in spite of what we have done, God has loved us. Because of that love for us, He offers us salvation. How can a righteous God forgive us and give us eternal life? Doesn’t sin call for justice? Indeed, it does. God sent His only begotten Son, Jesus, to die FOR us and pay for our sins. Ephesians 5:2 tells us that “Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God…” WHAT LOVE! When we, by faith, come to the Lord and own Him as Savior and Lord, we receive all the benefits of His great love.

As those who know Christ, and know His love on a daily basis, we should exhibit the love of Christ to everyone so that they might also come to Him for salvation. His love is in us, we need to use His love to benefit others. We read in Romans 5:5 that “the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” Ephesians 5:2 (as quoted above) says in its entirety, “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.” (241.8)