One of the more common questions for Christians is the magnitude of God’s love. As Christians, we are taught that God is the source of all love, and we are to live lives of love and love our neighbors as ourselves. God’s love fuels our desire to model Christlike behavior, leading us to serve Him with our whole hearts, minds, and soul and to love others as Jesus would.
But what is God’s love, and as importantly, how can I act on it?
The Scriptures give us numerous examples and teaching demonstrating the love of God. As Christian leaders, we must empower new Christians to search for answers in the Scriptures, showing them the importance of understanding God’s love and how it manifests in our actions and the glory we give to our God.
1 Peter 4:8 tells us that “Above all, love each other deeply because love covers over a multitude of sins. Ephesians 5:21 tells us to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. And 1 Corinthians 13:13 tells us that three remain: faith, hope, and love.
Even though we know this, serving and loving others as Jesus did isn’t an easy thing to do. Micah 6:8 tells us that Christians are called to act justly and to love mercy. They are also further called to serve others. Acts of service are an integral part of sharing the gospel, and knowing that God’s love triggers this act of service is essential to understand. We must stay in constant prayer, asking for the Emotional Intelligence of Christ to discern and love others as Jesus did.
Who is Love?
We toss the term love around a lot but do we know what love is in the biblical sense?
Genesis 1 tells us that God created the world and, out of love, declared His creations good. Considering that God is Love and we’re made in His image, it’s our responsibility to reflect God’s Love in all of our interactions.
John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” 1John 4:16 further explains that God is Love, and all who live in love, live in God, and God lives in them. 1 John 4:8 tells us that whoever does not love does not know God because God is Love. These Scriptures answer the question of who is Love and that it is God. The most important thing that a Christian must do is love because not doing so means we don’t and can’t know God, who is Love.
The Ways Love Presents
The New Testament, initially written in Greek and Aramaic, speaks of different kinds of love. The Greeks used four words to distinguish between other forms and intensities of love which help explain how love presents.
The first love, Agape is the highest level of love referenced in the Bible. It is God’s love. This form of love is everlasting and sacrificial, whether or not the giver receives the same level of love in return. Jesus’s command to love one another as Christ Himself has loved us (John 13:35).
The 2nd love, Storge, is used to describe familial love. This word describes the deep and caring bond that develops naturally between parents and children, husbands and wives, siblings, and other people you may consider to be family. This type of love can withstand many trials. Paul warns that people will become so selfish during the end times that they will live without any sense of natural affection for their own family (2 Timothy 3:3 KJV).
The 3rd love, Phileo, is the type of love expressed in brotherly love. The word phileo is expressly used in the Bible and refers to close friends’ warmth and affinity, almost as if those friends were actual siblings. It takes the love between family and applies it to non-family members (the love between friends)
The 4th love, Eros, refers to romantic love and is the root of the English word erotic. Eros or sexual love is not impure but is a gift from God to married couples to express their love for one another and continue the human race. The Bible warns us that eros love without boundaries amounts to sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 6:18; Galatians 5:19)
As you can see, each of these four types of love is important to understand as they represent empathy, friendship, romantic love, and unconditional love, which God has for us. When you better understand the kinds of love, it will help you spot areas in your relationships that could use a little work.
How to Act on God’s Love Daily
Acting on God’s love takes engagement and insight. It takes us knowing who love is, the ways love presents, and how to act on love daily. Acting on God’s love is explained in 1 Corinthians 13:4-5: 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, and it keeps no record of wrongs. We act on God’s Love by praying, encouraging, listening, giving, and loving.
Jesus, our fantastic teacher, summarized all of Scripture into two commands about love: Love God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself. “All the Law and the Prophets,” Jesus explained, “hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:34-40).
John 14:23 says, “If a man loves me, he will keep my word.” Since the Word is God, we must love accordingly and meditate day and night on His word to embed it into our hearts. A unique guide we have to help us do this is the Holy Spirit, who will help us discern and apply the emotional intelligence in Christ to course correct through things that steer us away from God and His love.
God’s love starts with our heart. Learn more about loving like Jesus in our 4-week study, The Heart of a Great Leader.