God Is Love

God’s Love in the Epistles

5 min

“God is love.” What a simple, yet profound statement concerning the nature of the God that we serve. It is not merely that God loves, although He does. Nor is it merely that God is loving, although He is. God is love. God does not exist apart from love, and it is true that Biblical love does not exist apart from God. Of course, love must be held in proper perspective as one of His many attributes. Our God Who is love is also righteous, holy, just, true, and all-powerful. His love cannot be divorced from any of these other attributes, but it exists harmoniously with them all.

Further context and application of this remarkable statement (“God is love”) is found in I John 4. In this chapter, the Apostle John lays out for us the foundation of our own love for our brothers and sisters in Christ: “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. 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. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another” (I John 4:7–11, emphasis added).

The New Testament epistles abound with references to the love of God and how we ought to love as He loves. The Apostle Paul gave us an entire chapter that amplifies the quality of love, rendered in this passage with the classic word charity. Paul illustrated in a practical way not only the love of God for us, but also the love that we ought to have one for another. In I Corinthians 13:4–8, the Apostle gave fifteen descriptions of Biblical charity, or love. He described for us the love of God, as well as also setting forth practical ways that we ought to imitate God’s love. Let’s consider each one of these fifteen descriptions of charity (love).

  1. Charity suffereth long
    Is your love patient? Are you quickly discouraged when your love is not immediately appreciated or returned? Remember that God is long-suffering toward you, and we are to extend that same patience to others.
  2. Charity is kind
    Sometimes an unkind comment can deeply hurt the very ones that we love the most. Do you ever speak unkindly to those you love? Remember that the Lord speaks “comfortably” (Isaiah 40:2) to His people when calling them back to Himself. Scripture teaches that it is from the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks. Ask the Lord to use your words to be a channel of His love.
  3. Charity envieth not
    True love does not nourish a spirit of envy. Envy destroys relationships and poisons the soul of the envious. Do you sometimes envy someone—perhaps a relative, friend, or even another believer—who seems to receive more blessings than you do? Rather than envying that person, rejoice with him and give God the glory.
  4. Charity vaunteth not itself
    Do you boast about your own virtues and achievements? Our Lord Jesus, the most loving Man Who ever lived, was meek and lowly in heart. True love springs from a humble heart. When you think of your achievements, remember that all we have—even our talents and abilities—come from the Lord.
  5. Charity is not puffed up
    While the former description warns against boastfulness, this description of love warns against becoming puffed up by the flattery of others. Biblical love deflects all praise to God. The next time you are praised, give the credit to God and to others.
  6. Charity doth not behave itself unseemly
    The Greek word translated “unseemly” is also used in I Corinthians 7:36 to speak of moral impurity. It is vitally important for Christian men to behave respectfully around women and especially to love their sisters in Christ in a wholesome, Godly way. True charity always focuses on the spiritual, not on the physical.
  7. Charity seeketh not her own
    Is your love for others selfish in the sense that you are hoping to receive love and favor in return? Remember that the love of God revealed in Christ Jesus was freely and sacrificially given. Make sure that your acts and words of love are not given with any selfish motive.
  8. Charity is not easily provoked
    When our temper flares in anger, it is a warning sign that we are not loving as we should. Indeed, little provocations, if allowed, can destroy relationships in the family. Biblical love is consistent. The next time you become irritated, rather than react, ask God to remind you that this irritation is an opportunity to express His love.
  9. Charity thinketh no evil
    Do you react to news and gossip by assuming the worst of your brother? It is easy to jump to conclusions before the full matter is heard. Biblical love always assumes the best of others. Whenever you hear gossip or slander, remind the slanderer that unfounded and evil thoughts are destructive.
  10. Charity rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth
    The sins (iniquities) of the world and the love of God brought our Lord Jesus to the cross of Calvary. We should never rejoice to hear an evil report, even about an enemy. Biblical love rejoices in truth and always seeks restoration.
  11. Charity beareth all things
    The Greek word here means “to cover” or “to be silent.” Do you constantly remind your loved ones of their past failures? God has cast your sins into the depths of the sea. So also you should “forgive and forget.” True love covers transgression and does not bring up past offenses.
  12. Charity believeth all things
    When you pray for your loved ones, do you pray in faith, believing that God hears and will answer your prayers? Biblical love has an ultimate objective in mind. Jesus loved you with the purpose of your sanctification, and one of the best ways we can express love is to engage in trusting, intercessory prayer and looking for God’s answer.
  13. Charity hopeth all things
    Hope is the willingness to believe that dawn is coming, even when the night is darkest! True love has a steadfast hope anchored securely in the promises of God revealed in Christ Jesus, and it keeps on believing even when circumstances are bleak.
  14. Charity endureth all things
    Christ, in love, endured the agonies of Calvary for your sake. He has called you to take your cross and follow Him. Do you endure suffering, or do you murmur and complain about your cross? Whenever you are in a difficult trial, remember that it is an opportunity to reflect the love of God.
  15. Charity never faileth
    Christ won ultimate victory over sin, death, and hell by the power of love. His love is the most unstoppable force in the universe, and it is His intention to love others through you.

We are entrusted with the great privilege to be channels of God’s love to a needy world. Consider memorizing I Corinthians 13. Meditation upon this chapter will potentially transform all of your relationships for the better. Let us each examine our own lives and look for practical ways that we can spread God’s love to our families, our churches, and our communities.

This article is from our Matters of Life & Death teaching series.

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