– Francis Chan
What is Love?
The world’s definition of love and God’s are nearly opposites of one another. Mankind describes love as feelings, likes, passions, and what appeals to the eye, but God’s love is described as displayed on the cross. It isn’t about what you feel, but about what you do. Love is a verb, more than a noun. Jesus didn’t feel like taking on the sins of humanity. If He depended upon only feelings, He might have never gone to the cross. No, Jesus displayed God’s love by dying for those who hated Him, and we were once natural enemies of His (Rom 5:10). That is what love is, specifically, “agape” love–a love that is willing to die for others who don’t deserve it.
John 3:16 might be the greatest biblical definition of love there is: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” Love is giving, not just talking or feeling. Paul wrote that “one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:7-8). God died for unrighteous sinners who didn’t deserve it and for those who were His enemies (Rom 5:10). That is what love is, and that is how God will measure our lives.
Loving Our Enemies
If our life is to be measured by God as significant, this means that we will, like God, love those who don’t love us back and may even hate us. Jesus expressed this in Matthew 5:44-45: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” Just as rain comes to both the just (or justified–that would be us) and the unjust (that would be the unsaved), so we must love those who are unlovable because we were before God saved us. Jesus gives us more on this love by saying, “If you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same” (Matt 5:46-47)? In other words, if we love only those in our immediate family, then we are no different than the world.
The love of God that we show to others, regardless of whether they deserve it or not, will be the measuring stick that God uses when He evaluates our life, and it doesn’t matter how we define love, but how God does that is important.