Love is a highly misunderstood word; most people have a very narrow, limited definition of it. The world sings songs about it, writes books about it, and talks about it frequently, but love, in its purest form, is perfectly defined only in the Bible. Born-again believers who choose to love others are making a choice to do so, and this choice has nothing to do with feelings or emotions. When we demonstrate what God teaches us, we fulfill His law of love.
Loving others has nothing to do with liking them personally. Love may involve human emotion, but it goes way beyond that. Even when someone else is totally “unlovable” and loving is difficult, following Christ’s lead in this area helps us. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). It wasn’t always easy for Jesus to love others during His earthly ministry, and following His lead isn’t always easy for us, but what He successfully did enables us to succeed as well.
Even before the age of grace, God emphasized the connection between love and the heart. “Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him. Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the Lord” (Leviticus 19:17, 18). When Jesus came, the royal law of love that He taught replaced the burdensome Ten Commandments with all of its detailed, accompanying laws. “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:30, 31). It all boils down to this: love. This one law is simple and straightforward, yet many people still struggle with it.
Jesus knew very well that we could never fulfill the spirit of God’s law through self-effort. Faith in His finished works empowers us to do what we can’t do on our own. “If indeed you [really] fulfill the royal Law in accordance with the Scripture, You shall love your neighbor as [you love] yourself, you do well…So speak and so act as [people should] who are to be judged under the law of liberty [the moral instruction given by Christ, especially about love]” (James 2:8, 12, AMPC). This frees our spirits the way God intended.
We all have days when others get on our nerves, and we’re tempted to fall back into the world’s way of behaving. Life’s frustrations would be too much for us to handle if it weren’t for what God did to enable us to love others. “And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him… We love him, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:16, 19). We’re able to put others first and stay out of self-centeredness when we truly believe this.
Speaking and acting in love shows the world we’re Christians. Doing everything with the proper motivation makes us stand out from the crowd. The example we set is the most powerful tool we can use to show God’s love to others.