And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
(Philippians 1:9-11 ESV)
The common understanding of love in our culture is that it is an emotional feeling that makes us feel good. We believe that anything that doesn’t make us feel good must not be loving. We think that to be loving we must approve, or least remains silent about, what is going on around us. But that is not the biblical definition of love.
God’s definition of love (which is the true definition) is not sentimentality. It is action directed away from self and toward the benefit of others. This kind of love requires two ingredients: knowledge and discernment.
We cannot learn about love from the world around us. What the world considers love is actually lust. So-called “love songs” are actually “lust songs” as they focus on self-satisfaction. Love is not self-focused. It is others-focused.
If I had a relative or friend who was a drug addict and I did not say anything to her about it I would not be loving. Confronting her about her life style would be the most loving thing I could do because I see and care about the consequences of her choices.
In order to understand love we need to know God. We achieve this by studying His word. There we learn that God isn’t just loving, He is love [1 John 4:8]. Therefore, the more we know Him the more we know about love and the more we’ll be able to display love.
A byproduct of learning more about God is discernment – learning when and how to display love. God’s love as displayed in the Bible was at times encouraging [Jonah 4]. Other times He was confrontational as He was with the Pharisees who were teaching false information about how to get to heaven [Matthew 23]. We need to learn to use love in the same way.
Jesus demonstrated love by helping those in need. He also demonstrated it by pointing out sin. He didn’t do this because He was arrogant or judgmental. He did it because He knows the consequences of sin – eternal separation from God.
Too many in our culture today believe that love means standing idly by while others do whatever they want – even if it is leading to their own eternal destruction. But this is not love. This is indifference. As God demonstrated through Jesus, true love focuses on the improvement of others at the cost of self.
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.
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