“Peace be to the brothers, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible.”
Paul ends his letter to the Ephesians with a three-fold blessing: peace, love with faith, and grace.
Love with faith is distinctive. It is not love as the world defines it; rather, it is love that only comes “from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” It is love as God defines it, and it requires that we have faith to trust in God’s principles for how love works. “Love with faith” means that we activate God’s love in our life when we live for him, walk with him, and obey him as we navigate life in a fallen world.
The Lord desires for us real love that is guided by true faith. Not the shallow, pseudo-love of today’s culture, but the powerful, transformational, and sacrificial love that can only be found in relationship with God through Jesus.
Remember Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3.16-19: “…that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
We need to pray this very prayer with great faithfulness and fervency. Because of what the Lord has done for us through Jesus’ death and resurrection, we are “rooted and grounded in love.” Still, this passage tells us, there is much work to be done in order to comprehend and experience the fullness—the breadth, length, height, and depth—of God’s love for us.
Paul’s reference to the breadth, length, height, and depth most likely refers not to different aspects of the love of Christ, but to the expansiveness and fullness of it. This is in great contrast to the terribly over-simplified way the world defines love.
God’s love is not soft. In fact, it is love that motivates us to do the hard things in life, work, and relationships. At the same time, the love of God also motivates and empowers us to do the tender things in life: Care about others; listen with empathy; provide for those in need; be kind to people. These are also acts of love.
When we are rooted and grounded in love—when we operate from love with faith—we have the wisdom to discern when to be tough and when to be tender. That is because the love of God is not an emotional impulse, it is an action that is motivated to benefit others. Love sees the need and takes action. It is neither directed by nor dependent on feelings.
May you “know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”