Love from a Scriptural Standpoint

I believe that the way someone relates to God is personal and I would not presume to criticize it. What I’m after today is opinions about how our understanding of love has evolved. For example, I see a lot of raised arms, tears and loud proclamations of faith these days in church services. On the flip side we have a more solemn, ceremonial or just quieter expression of faith from stodgy and boring Presbyterians like myself. 🙂 In all seriousness, sometimes I think that people have given love meaning that it hasn’t always had. So, I went to scripture. There are an incredible number of verses on love, and some have different implications than others. (This brings me to a brief aside about seeking answers in scripture. I think it can be dangerous to take one verse or passage as irrefutable instruction about how one should live or behave. And “context” doesn’t always mean just the verses immediately before and after. When taken as a whole -the Bible might say something quite different on a subject than you thought it did when you just read one verse.)   Sorry – back to the topic at hand. Below are a few verses dealing with love.

  • Luke 6:35 seems to refer to “love” and “kindness” interchangeably: But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.
  • And then we have the iconic 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7: Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
  • Romans 12:9: Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.
  • 1 John 4: 18-19: There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.  We love because he first loved us.
  • 1 John 3: 16-18: This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.  If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?  Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.

And of course, there are MANY more verses which may say something different to you. My point is that none of these really say anything about the way we should express our love. And perhaps sometimes we make it gooier or more dramatic or more solemn than it needs to be. What I take from this is that we should be listening to ourselves, searching our hearts and assessing what is truly sincere and what is merely, well, show.

Hope everyone has a great weekend! Thanks for reading.


4 thoughts on “Love from a Scriptural Standpoint

  1. thoughtful comments! Someone has said the the evolution of love has occurred to keep people together for mutual benefit, especiall for protection. I don’t usually think of love as evolving, but I guess in at least that sense, it does!
    Thinking about the definitions of love always reminds me of the Sunday school teachings about love that divided it into three types (probably a bit of an overgeneralization): eros, sensual love; agape, self giving love; and philia, brotherly love.
    Those 3 spheres frequently intersect in the Bible, and of course, in our experience: my brother could probably experience love for me that was either or both self giving or filial.
    Hopefully, our experience of love is a growing and maturing thing. As we get over our prejudices and improve our discernment, perhaps we will be able to love each other better. I think it’s comforting to remember that our example of love is from the One who loved first and loved best.

    1. Appreciate the response! Thank you for bringing me back to what really matters here. I agree. At the heart of my question about how we should define and express love is God. Maybe it is not truly possible to box it up and make it something we can comprehend, just as we can’t define God. After all, scripture indicates that the two are inseparable. 1 John 4:8 – Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

  2. One more thing – just a clarification. I asked about how our understanding of love has evolved, but my question is probably more along the lines of “how have our expressions of love evolved?” What I’m feeling is that love and the way we put it out there are sometimes not in sync or complimentary. Like the way we put the emotion into practice is flawed, perhaps.

  3. My best learning about love from the Bible is that God is the source of all love. God loves us all unconditionally–not for what we do but for who we are. We are able to love others because God loves us.

    I affirm your sense that taking one verse out of context can be misleading. I am a big picture person, especially when it comes to Scripture.

    There are many ways that we are able to express our love. Some expression are more overt than others, but even the quiet, subtle expressions of love are commendable.

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