The four advent/Christmas themes are hope, joy, peace, and love. These themes are important all year. This week we focus on love. Our society tells us that love means accepting people just as they are. It tells us that love is that warm, tingling feeling we feel for that special someone. But what is love really? Is it a feeling? A verb?
As Christians, we know that love is a much richer concept than the world around us understands. The Bible tells us that God is love:
The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. (1 John 4:8, NASB)
God is love. As such He defines it. He demonstrates His love for us through Christ:
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16, NASB)
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8, NASB)
In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:10, NASB)
God enables us to love Him and to love others:
We love, because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19, NASB)
We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. (1 John 4:16, NASB)
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. (1 John 4:11-12, NASB)
God promises that nothing can separate us from His love:
But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:37-39, NASB)
God sets the standard for how we are to love others:
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a, NASB)
If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also. (1 John 4:20-21, NASB)
Sometimes that love means confronting sin. Sometimes it means forgiving others for how they’ve sinned against us. Sometimes it means leaving family and friends behind to follow Christ. Love can be painful.
Love is so much more than a passing feeling. It’s more than romance. It’s more than blind acceptance. Love, true love, is active and self-sacrificial. It puts the needs of others before itself. It’s a fruit of the Spirit and evidence of the saving love we’ve been given. We love God and others because He first loved us. This Christmas season, may we remember the love that God has shown us in the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, and may we demonstrate that love for others in all that we do.
By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:35, NASB)