Love is a huge word in the Bible, a huge word in the character of God.
But I think our concept of love is rather squishy compared to God’s view of love.
Love has come to mean any number of things, and seemingly every person has a different definition of what love is.
We know that God loves us. We know this primarily through the Gospel of Jesus Christ–God’s love was demonstrated to us that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Greater love has no man than this, than to lay down His life.
We know God loves us, but how do we know if we love God?
Do we know we love God because we have squishy feelings for Him? Do we know we love Him because we tell Him we do every once in a while?
The Bible helps us out with this one quite nicely, makes it rather simple. I’ll begin with a verse I partially quoted already–greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
Christ laid down His life for His friends, who, pray tell, are His friends? The next verse answers that, “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.”
I imagine this freaks many people out. “Are you saying we are saved by works?” Nope, just saying that we love Him because He first loved us. How do we love Him: We obey Him.
Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments” in John 14. 1 John 5:3, says, “this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.” 2 John 1:6 puts it this way, “this is love, that we walk after his commandments.”
As Paul says over and over, “Love is the fulfilling of the law.” The Law consists of commandments. Love fulfills the commands of God.
Not only is it true that those who love God keep His commandments, the opposite is also true: those who hate God don’t keep His commandments. “The haters of the Lord should have submitted themselves unto him.”
We know God loves us because He sent His Son to die for us. God knows we love Him because we respond to His love with a grateful heart willing to obey. He gave His life for us; we respond by giving our lives to Him. Present your bodies a living sacrifice.
This is love. Whatever other definition you have for “love” here is wrong.