Love is a word that is used very loosely in today’s society. People will say that they love most anything or most anyone without any feeling behind it. Many think they know true love or have true love, but do they? Let us consider the Biblical answer to what true love truly is.
Jesus said, “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). In this statement, we find the very embodiment of sacrifice. Jesus is alluding to his own death by the crucifixion. Therefore we know that the crucifixion did not succeed because people’s hatred for Christ was so great, but because the love of God for man was so great. Paul wrote, “But God commends his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). The apostle John reiterated this point by saying, “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein 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 4:9-10).
Love is seen in the sacrifice of God’s Son because he loved man (John 3:16). The Lord Jesus Christ loved us and gave himself for us (Gal. 2:20). Therefore, as we consider the death of Christ on the cross, and the resulting remission of our sins (Matt. 26:28), we are seeing love in action!
Paul writes to the Corinthians, telling them, “I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved” (2 Cor. 12:15). To “spend and be spent” meant Paul was willing to give every fiber of his being for them because he loved them. He was ready to sacrifice all for the cause of Christ in that city. He would do this, even if it was not reciprocated! Unrequited love does not diminish true love. This was the attitude of Christ as well for he gave himself for a world who hated and were opposed to him.
Could we do this? Could we love those who hated us? Could we sacrifice for those who do not care about us? Christ encouraged such behavior in Matthew 5:43-44. He then asked the following questions: “For if you love them which love you, what reward have you? Do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do you more than others? Do not even the publicans so?” (Matt. 5:46-47). Yes, there is more to “loving” a person than we might have first thought! John said, “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 John 3:16). How much do we love our brethren? (1 Pet 2:17)
Let us consider the fact that the love husbands have for their wives is described as sacrifice. Paul wrote the Ephesian Christians and said, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it. . . . So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loves his wife loves himself” (Eph. 5:25, 28). How much did Christ love the church? So much so that he gave his own life to purchase it (Acts 20:28). In like manner then, a man ought to love his wife to this degree, to be willing to give his life for her if that was what was required of him. A husband ought to be willing to make those sacrifices for his wife as well as his children (Eph. 6:4). This type of love emulates the love that God and Christ have for us. Unfortunately, we are living in an age when this type of man is vanished from the planet. Christian men, let us be the type that our wives and children can look up to and can be assured of true love. Let them see Jesus Christ in us (Gal. 2:20 ff; Eph. 3:17; 2 Cor. 4:10). Let them see true and proper love as we willingly give of ourselves (sacrifice) for them.
Wives, love your husband and your children even as you are commanded to do. (Tit 2:4,5) Show your love by obeying your husband, even as he loves Christ and adheres to His Word. Care and train your children in the Lord, for in so doing you are making yourself even as Sarah who obeyed her husband and called him Lord. (1 Pet 3:6) In so doing, you are showing your love for Christ and to the one you are bound to for life. In so doing, you are laying the foundation for the local church to have qualified elders and deacons to govern the body of Christ. (1 Tim 3:4,11)
Conclusion: This world is filled with Casanovas and Temptresses who are out to steal your heart. Remember, words are cheap, good looks are deceiving, and fortune and fame soon fade away. If you want true love in your life, be willing to give true love back to the one who truly loves you. Cherish the one who shows their love to you, even as Christ showed his love for you and I. True love is not flowers or candy, jewelry or whatever you’re demanding. No! True love gives their very life even as Christ gave his life that we might have eternal life. True love for the married are willing to give up the one who appears perfect for you, alluring to you, and remaining faithful to their spouse, even as Christians are commanded to give up the more attractive world and remain faithful to the Lord. True love is not a feeling, and it’s not lust or desire. No! True love remains faithful, even when your spouse turns old and gray and wrinkled, when they are sick and dying, and when they can offer nothing back to you at all. When we are in a bad marriage, where our spouse doesn’t love us with romance in their heart as we once knew, we should never stop loving them, just as Christ never stopped loving us and waits for us to come back to him. (Rom 2:4)
Even when we had nothing to offer Christ, Christ loved us, even now. If we love Christ, we will show this kind of love to him by obeying the gospel, remaining faithful to his doctrine, and lose our very life just to be with the one who died for us. (Mt 16:24-26) We should be willing and not be ashamed to suffer for the cause of Christ even as Christ suffered for us. (1 Pet 2:20,21 f; 1 Pet 4:16) Remember this, true love is not what we say, but rather what we DO! As Jesus said, “…My mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it.” (Lk 8:21) This is true love!