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Defining Love

1 John 4:10-11

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This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

1 John 4:10-11 NIV

What is love? In English, what love means is dependent on how it is used. I love pizza, my country, and my family. And something different is meant by each of these. Unlike English, Greek has several words that translate as “love.” The one used most commonly in the New Testament is agapē. This word describes God’s love for the world, especially his people, and the love we should have for God and our fellow believers. But the question remains, just what is love?

God Is Love

John defines love in two ways. In John 4:8 and John 4:16, he tells us that God is love. God is not defined as loving. Instead, love is defined by who God is. So to love is to be like God.

In this passage, John gives us a concrete example of love. Love does not start with us. Instead, it begins with God. God sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. If we want to know what love is, we need to look no further than the cross of Christ. His atoning sacrifice reveals to us what love is.

John goes on to say those of us who have experienced the love of God should respond by loving one another. If God is love, and I am in him, then his love should be revealed in all I do. If I do not love, John says, then I do not know God (1 John 4:8).

So what is love? God is love. And it is in giving his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins that love is most clearly displayed. To love is to follow the example that God gave. To sacrificially lay down my life for my brothers and sisters in Christ (1 John 3:16). It is not a matter of how I feel or what I say, but what I do for others (1 John 3:18). So, dear friends, let us love one another (1 John 4:7).

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Ed Jarrett

Just an old clay jar that God continues to see fit to use in his kingdom's work. I am retired, married with 2 children, and 4 grandchildren. I have followed Jesus for many years. And I love to share what He has given me from His word.

A Note to Readers

The views expressed here are solely mine and do not necessarily reflect those of any other person, group, or organization. While I believe they reflect the teachings of the Bible, I am a fallible human and subject to misunderstanding. Please feel free to leave any comments or questions about this post in the comments section below. I am always interested in your feedback.

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