What is Love and Why is it Important in the Life of a Disciple

Have you ever wondered why is there so much unrest and violence in the world? We often hear stories of individuals suffering from corruption, abuse, discrimination and even abduction or murder. It is all due to humanity’s tendency to loose sight of others and their feelings and focus solely on one’s own needs and interest. It is battle between selfishness and selflessness. We all have needs and are motivated to fulfill these needs sometimes at the expense of others. Often we will develop rational or emotional explanations for our selfish actions. Yet there is a higher way to live; it is the way of self-giving love that Jesus demonstrated.

Jesus taught and demonstrated a kind of love that is outside what the world is use to experiencing. The love that the world gives is based on what it can receive in return. This kind of love is tentative, sporadic or short-lived; it always has strings attached. But the love Jesus demonstrated, God’s kind of love, is self-giving and unconditional. It does not expect a return; misuse and bad behavior can not diminished it; such love continues to give and give. This is the kind of love God has for us; as the Paul tells us in Romans 5:8:

But God commends his own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

The Apostle John tells us the God is love (1 John 4:8). This means that love is the essential aspect of God’s nature. It also means that there can be not greater expressions of love apart from God. The practice then of self-giving love reflects of the nature God and accomplishes his will. This is what God the Father did in sending his Son, Jesus to die for mankind; he gave his one and only, his very best. And Jesus demonstrated God’s self-giving love through his ministry and by offering his life as a sacrifice for our sin on the cross. It was a life-style of love. Thus, the Apostle Paul proclaimed that we should do the same:

Be therefore imitators of God, as beloved children. Walk in love, even as Christ also loved you, and gave himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling fragrance. Ephesians 5:1, 2

That is why Jesus gave us his command:

This is my commandment, that you love one another, even as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. John 15:12, 13

And he said that by demonstrating this love all people would know that we are his disciple (John 13:34, 35); it would be the distinguishing mark of a Christian. It is Jesus number one command to his followers. And if fits right in with what he said were the greatest commands of the Old Testament:

One of the scribes came, and heard them questioning together. Knowing that he had answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the greatest of all?”

Jesus answered, “The greatest is, ‘Hear, Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one: you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. The second is like this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:28-31

Now to practice this love will not always be easy, but God has given us born again believers an advantage as Paul tells us in Romans 5:5:

…and hope doesn’t disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:5

Yes, the Father has already place his love on the inside of each believer through the Holy Spirit. Paul reminds young Timothy of the same thing when he wrote in 2 Timothy 1:7

For God didn’t give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self-control. 2 Timothy 1:7

God did not give us a spirit of fear but a spirit of love; we have been given us the capacity to comprehend and to show his love. But first we need to develop this capacity. We need to get a revelation of God’s love for us, of how much he values us, cares for us and wants the best for us. Then we are able to let go of our own interests and allow his love to take control of our motives, words and actions. We can do this because we understand that God will take care of our wants, needs and desires. Thus, now we are free to consider the needs of those around us. We come to understand that love is more than a feeling; it is actions we do whether we feel like it or not, whether the persons we are showing love to deserve it or not. This is love without conditions, the same kind of love that God has for us. This is the kind of love the Paul said would never fail.

Finally, God has given us principles that explain his love. Take for instance the thirteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians. Here we have God’s blueprint for love. Let’s verses 4-8 from the Amplified Bible:

Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily. It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong]. It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail. Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening]. Love never fails [never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end]. AMP

Was there ever a better definition of unconditional love than this? This is the kind of love we need to strive for if we are to walk in love as Christ did. We need to take time to meditate on scriptures like these so that are minds are renewed in the image of Christ for in our age it is easy to overlook what is happen around us and to focus on our interest. Jesus warns us that in the last days because of the increase of sin, the love of many will grow cold. Let’s not allow our love for others to become cold, but instead let us increase in our ability to give and show the love of God to our fellow Christians and to those outside the family of God.

Copyright © 2009 -2011by Alan Pasho, www.disciplepedia.org. All rights reserved. Scriptures taken from the Word English Bible (WEB)