1 John 3:16 (King James Version)
The word “love” is thrown around a lot in this world we live in. For example, people sometimes say they love a certain food, a movie, an activity, or a relationship. However, I do believe that when people make such statements they are confusing a personal preference for love; or even worse, mistaking lust as love.
It is important that we develop a clear definition of love. Otherwise the word loses value and is thrown around like it is today. Love is the main theme in the Bible and it is viewed as something to be cherished above all things. Since God thinks that love is important, it is essential, as followers of the Almighty, that we understand what love is in the eyes of our Lord.
In the English language, “love” has a narrow definition. It can be a noun describing an intense feeling of deep affection; or it can be a verb, defined as a deep romantic attachment to someone. Which of these definitions fits God’s view of love?
The answer is none of the above! In the Greek language, which the Bible (the New Testament) was originally written, there are three different definitions for love. The first is the romantic love which coincides with the definition in English. The second meaning can be described as brotherly love, which is the kind of love that family has for each other.
The third definition for love in the Greek is very different from the others. In the original language, it suggests a love that is given without any strings attached. When someone loves another, it is usually because the significant other did something to earn it. That is not the case in this meaning for love. The one receiving the love does not have to do anything to earn the other’s affection; it is given freely.
Knowing this, which of these definitions of love fits with God’s love? We can find the answer in 1 John 3:16. When Jesus laid down His life for us on the cross, He did it without any strings attached. He did not ask us to stop sinning before He went to the cross, He just did it. This fits the criteria of the third definition: a love that is unconditional.
It is humbling to think of what God did for us and we did not even deserve such loving grace because of our sinful nature. This knowledge should compel us to love others in the same way. The unconditional love of God is something that needs to be shared with everyone. Exercising this kind of love will not be easy, but we have a model to look at in Jesus Christ, and we still have a God who still loves without any strings attached; and will continue to do so to the end of time and beyond.
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