A review of biblical love on Downtown Demure

Let’s Talk About Love.

A review of biblical love on Downtown Demure

Love. It’s a word at the forefront of most people’s minds right now. It has a hashtag that’s still trending. It’s leading many people to plaster rainbows over their Facebook profile pictures in honor of it.

But how much do we know about our favorite four-letter word? How much have we thought about what love truly is beyond the romantic feelings?

I asked myself this question several times this weekend as I scrolled through various Facebook status updates. The level of hate and intolerance I noticed from both sides — those supporting gay marriage and those who don’t — indicate that we all still have much to learn about love.

In the midst of heated politics and feeds oversaturated with opinions, it seems we, even those who profess to be Christians, forgot (or maybe never understood) some of the basics of love.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. (1 John 4:7 ESV)

Love is from God. God is the author and creator of love; we cannot know true love apart from Him. We cannot love each other properly if we do not love God first (Matthew 22:37-38) and do not have the Spirit of God working within us to teach us how to love. We cannot understand love unless we take time to learn more about God’s love — which was perfectly exemplified in the life and death of Christ. When we study His love, we quickly realize it’s not one-dimensional. It’s patience, kindness, compassion, justice, righteousness, wisdom, and tolerance all perfectly manifested in one virtue. We do each other a great disservice when we exclusively focus on one or two aspects of love (such as tolerance and compassion) while neglecting the other aspects.

God is the author and creator of love; we cannot know true love apart from Him. Click To Tweet

Love is constantly seeking the best interest of others. What’s in all people’s best interest? To coming to a saving faith in Jesus Christ. We need to love people enough to want to save their souls by sharing the gospel truths. That’s how God loves us. That’s how Christ loves us. Any love that has a goal less than that is not true love.

Love is sacrifice. In the Bible, this kind of love is called agape in Greek. God showed us this love when he offered up his holy, blameless son as a propitiation for our sins. Since we have received such unfathomable love, we must seek to exhibit such sacrificial love towards others. Sometimes seeking others’ best interests conflicts with our personal best interests. In those moments we have to sacrifice whatever may benefit us – be it time, comfort, or even social acceptance – in favor of what can save another.

Love is compassion. Consider Matthew 9:10-13. Christ was able to proclaim the truth while *showing* great compassion towards people considered the foremost of sinners – the prostitutes, the tax collectors, the adulterers. Therefore, those sinners felt comfortable coming to Jesus for guidance and healing, so much so that they willingly dined with him! We too need to be the kind of people whom others are comfortable confiding in when they need help because they know we’ll show love and compassion before critical judgment.

And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. (1 John 4: 21 ESV)

Love is a command. Love is not optional for Christians because we ourselves are recipients of great love, life-saving love. We cannot love only those with whom we identify or those we deem worthy of love. God loved us when we weren’t worthy of love, so we must do the same for all people.

We love because he first loved us. - 1 John 4,19

 

Now for the really hard part. Let’s talk about what love is NOT.

it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. (1 Corinthians 13:6 ESV)

Love is not sin. Love does NOT enable sin. If I’m truly looking out for your best interests, I won’t enable you to sin because I know that sin separates us from God, and there is no fate worse than permanent separation from God. I can listen, try to understand, and even sympathize with your struggle. But I can’t support your decisions to reject truth and continue in sin. That’s not love. Love rejoices in truth (1 Corinthians 13:6). If I truly love you, I will discourage you from sin by encouraging you to seek the hope that lies in Christ. And if you love me, you’ll do the same for me.

I say this not just in reference to homosexuality, but ALL sins. Yes, the motivating topic for this post was homosexuality because it received a giant spotlight this weekend due to the recent SCOTUS decision. And I’ll be perfectly clear in stating that I believe the practice of homosexuality (the action NOT the attraction) to be sin because of clear verses in the Bible stating so: 1 Corinthians 6:9, 1 Timothy 1:9-10, Romans 1:26-27. I’m not in the least bit homophobic. Homosexuality is a topic that’s very personal for me, and I have several LGB-identifying people in my life whom I love deeply. It’s because I love them that I have to share my honest thoughts on homosexual activity based on scripture.

But I don’t want us to get too hung up on homosexuality specifically because it’s just as egregious as any other form of sexual immorality (I’m looking at you, heterosexual folk who struggle with lust) and any other sin for that matter.

Love is not inaction. We can’t practice love if we say nothing, do nothing or express nothing towards those who desperately need to receive our love. We are doing ourselves and others a great disservice when we remain silent in the midst of social and cultural turmoil. Love is an action that requires an object. So if we seek to grow in love, we have to find people to love. We have to find people to save. We have to speak up when it’s necessary to speak.

Love is not easy. It’s not easy to constantly seek the best interests of others, particularly when those you’re trying to love reject your love or don’t understand it. Love requires us to share gospel truths with all, and that’s a difficult task when the truth contradicts so much of what the world holds dear. Sometimes love will require us to risk rejection and disproval in order to share the gospel. Love isn’t easy.  It also wasn’t easy for Christ to willingly be nailed to and killed on the cross by those he was trying to save. Yet, he did. So we must bear our cross of love, and move forward in it as well.

Practically speaking, what does all of this mean for us?

To my fellow Christians, it means we have to aim to show love towards everyone. It means we have to continually fight our natural instincts to put ourselves, our security, and our popularity first. We have to get to know people and be willing to show compassion over judgment. We can’t express love only when it’s easy, fun and popular to do so. We have to express love by trying to save people’s souls, even when it hurts.

To my non-Christian friends, I know we likely won’t agree on the definition of love because we likely don’t agree on the source of love. I just urge you to understand that when a Christian works up the courage to discuss a particular sin with you (hopefully with compassion and understanding), they are likely doing so out of love and they are trying to look out for your best interest — which is your salvation.

Dear readers/friends, I’d like to hear from you. Do you agree or disagree with my views of love?

Linking up with: Titus 2 Tuesdays // Modest Mondays // Raralinkup

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The Comments

  • Avatar
    Cynthia @ My Rose Colored Shades
    06/30

    This post couldn’t be more timely, Liz. Thank you for putting love in the forefront and reminding us that we are called to love first and foremost. The two greatest commandments are about love, God first and then one another. Great post!
    Cynthia @ My Rose Colored Shades recently posted…Outfit Highlight: Casual With a Touch of GlamMy Profile

    • Elizabeth
      Elizabeth
      > Cynthia @ My Rose Colored Shades
      06/30

      Exactly! Perfectly said, Cynthia. Thank you for reading and reminding me to insert Matthew 22:37-40 as a scriptural reference. 🙂

  • Avatar
    Bethany
    07/01

    Good post about not only our love, but God’s love! Visiting from the RaRa Linkup!
    Bethany recently posted…IS “Your Best” EVER Enough?My Profile

    • Elizabeth
      Elizabeth
      > Bethany
      07/02

      Thank you so much for those kind words, Bethany!

  • Avatar
    Janet
    07/01

    We have to be willing to show compassion over judgement…love is not easy… These are the thoughts I’ve also had since the SCOTUS decision came out. It is difficult when we know and love people who have been impacted by that decision – on both sides. I think this is where we have to turn over some of our words to the Holy Spirit – seek wisdom prayerfully. Because even the the words compassion and tolerance intimate judgement. We don’t have to agree to love… Very thought provoking, Elizabeth.
    Janet recently posted…Saving the BestMy Profile

    • Elizabeth
      Elizabeth
      > Janet
      07/02

      “I think this is where we have to turn over some of our words to the Holy Spirit – seek wisdom prayerfully. Because even the words compassion and tolerance intimate judgement.” Beautifully said, Janet. I hope I didn’t sound as though I’m anti-judgement. As Christians we HAVE to judge right and wrong at all times. But we’d do well to seek wisdom prayerfully before addressing such complicated and personal issues, particularly on Facebook and social media. Thank you so much for your insightful comment, Janet!

  • Avatar
    Elizabeth
    07/01

    I’ve been seeing that hashtag “Love Wins” everywhere, and it’s so sad that things can get so twisted that people will use love to excuse their sin. You know, even as a Christian, I’ve realized time and time again that I definitely fall short when it comes to true love. When we hear that phrase, we think of out future husband and how much we’ll love him. But that’s not the true love I’m talking about. I consider myself a very loving person, I guess you could say, but I’m talking about Calvary love, which I seem to fall short at! Loving people who don’t love you, or loving people not expecting anything in return. That’s when I have to ask God to help me love with a Christlike love 🙂

    • Elizabeth
      Elizabeth
      > Elizabeth
      07/02

      Amen, Elizabeth! I hope I didn’t sound as though I perfectly practice love because I wrote this post. Oh no. I fail at expressing Christlike love as much as the next Christian. I just felt it was so important to review love from a biblical standpoint in the midst of all the #lovewins craziness. It just broke my heart to see so many people I know, as you said, use love as a way to excuse sin.

      • Avatar
        Elizabeth
        > Elizabeth
        07/02

        I know that you NEVER speak in a way that you’ve got it all figured out lol You’re too real for that 🙂

  • Avatar
    Jacqueline
    07/01

    This is an excellent post! I think the lack of love expressed from the Christian community towards those living in sin has done some serious harm. I love how you worded this so clearly.

    • Elizabeth
      Elizabeth
      > Jacqueline
      07/02

      Sadly, I agree Jacqueline. I understand the intent, but as someone who was on the receiving end of that hatred for years (I was baptized as an adult), I understand how destructive palpable hate can be. Thank you so much for your support and kind words!

  • Avatar
    Autumn
    07/01

    Agreed! Wonderful post, well-put and lovingly expressed. I’m seeing many people, on both sides of the argument, attacking and addressing the opposing side with palpable hatred. The world needs less of that, and much more of selfless, compassionate Christ-like love…the only love that’s true.

    • Elizabeth
      Elizabeth
      > Autumn
      07/02

      Amen, Autumn! Thank you so much for your support and kind words!

  • Avatar
    Shelbi Huntter
    07/01

    I love that you have taken the time to write and post this! I have been thinking the same things since I heard about the decision while at a discipleship camp last week. It has been hard to get on Facebook when it is so full of the “Love Wins” hashtags and the mockery of the Cross. My Facebook feed has been a dark place this last week and I just get a heavy heart every time I go on. I have yet to post anything specifically about the ruling as I feel there is more than enough being said at the moment, but I have been leaning towards a blog post. This topic of love has been a big one for me. Especially with the hashtag. As many of my Christian friends have said, Love won at the Cross. Love already won. Now it is time for us to respond (or continue responding) to those who choose this lifestyle by continuing to love them and be a living example of Christ’s love to them. This doesn’t mean we accept or condone their lifestyle but rather that we show them that they are still loved because they are human beings whom God created. It is sad to see how many people have chosen this lifestyle and willingly walked away from God’s plan for them but they still deserve to be loved and shown love. I think your post does a great job of reminding us what that does and doesn’t look like!!!

    • Elizabeth
      Elizabeth
      > Shelbi Huntter
      07/02

      Shelbi, thank you so much for this beautiful, encouraging comment. Like you, I grieved while scrolling through Facebook this past week. It hurts to see so many people I know, people I love support something that’s in direction opposition to what God created. Still, it’s a lot easier to write about love than practice it. Writing this post reminded to do better at loving as Christ loved — with wisdom, grace, discernment and compassion. Prayerfully consider writing that post and sharing it (if you do write it, please share it with me!). We need more voices like yours to boldly proclaim the gospel’s definition of love!

  • Avatar
    Hayley
    07/02

    FANTASTIC post!! Such great reminders for all of us, even aside from the homosexuality topic! Well thought out and great biblical references (particularly the New Testament ones that speak against homosexuality)!
    Hayley recently posted…An encouragement to bloggers: What blog growth really isMy Profile

    • Elizabeth
      Elizabeth
      > Hayley
      07/02

      Thank you so much for your support, Hayley! I’m so glad you appreciate the broadness of this of this post, as I intended for it to extend far beyond homosexuality.

  • Avatar
    Amy M
    07/03

    I think this is an excellent post! I think many discussions of love these days find themselves so bound up in talk of homosexuality or just sexual purity in general that we tend to forget about all the other things (and there are so many!) that God has to say about love.
    Amy M recently posted…How I Love My Childhood Favorites!My Profile

    • Elizabeth
      Elizabeth
      > Amy M
      07/03

      Amen! That’s exactly how I felt after reading several articles by Christians about the SCOTUS decision. I find when there are so many opinions clashing on a complicated and emotional issues, it’s best to revisit the two greatest commandments. Thank you so much for reading and leaving a spot on comment, Amy!

  • Avatar
    Kara
    07/04

    Well said. I’ve been very frustrated and upset with what I’ve been seeing on the internet with regards to this subject. This post outlined my thoughts perfectly and a great reminder on how Christians should love.

    • Elizabeth
      Elizabeth
      > Kara
      07/04

      Thank you so much for your support, Kara! We share the same frustrations with many of the commentaries floating around the internet right now.

  • Avatar
    paul
    07/04

    great post, great topic, excellent verses once you show great wisdom in your use of the Bible

    • Elizabeth
      Elizabeth
      > paul
      07/04

      Thank you so much for your support, Paul!