1 Corinthians 16.13-14
“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.”
The final command that we receive in this passage—the final action/attribute of what it means to be a mature Christian adult—is to let all that you do be done in love.
Love is the most powerful force in the world. A real adult is guided and motivated by love. The Greek word for love in this passage is the famous agape. It is love designed and defined by God, and it means radical, unconditional commitment. It means the kind of love that is only found in relationship to Jesus.
Here are ten essential truths about love from scripture:
1. Love is the pre-eminent Christian virtue.
It is the great commandment. Since love is pre-eminent, we must get it right. We pay a terrible price if we get it wrong. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22.37-40).
2. We must understand love according to God’s design.
The scripture says that God defines what love is; love does not define who God is. God is love, but love is not God. The Lord’s definition of love is selfless, sacrificial commitment to the best interests of others. This is the famous Greek agape. “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4.7-8).
3. We must be careful not to follow a false view of love.
The world’s definition of love is “a strong feeling of affection,” and it is in direct opposition to selfless commitment. Love according to the world: feelings are primary; my commitment flows from how I feel about you. When the feelings waver, my love for you goes away. Love according to God’s kingdom: commitment is primary; my feelings flow from my commitment to you. When the feelings waver, my love for you stays strong.
4. God is the initiator of love.
We are able to know what love is only because God has shown us. “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us” (1 John 3.16). Without the person and work of Jesus, we would not know what authentic love is. We would be relegated to follow the world’s counterfeit version. We would be stuck in the darkness of self-centered, feeling-based love, which is really non-love.
5. When we love others, that is the evidence of Christ in our life.
Love—that is, the selfless, sacrificial agape love that God gives—is the mark of a Christian. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13.34-35).
If we claim to believe in Jesus but don’t love others, we are self-deceived and live in darkness. “But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes” (1 John 2.11).
More tomorrow …