Faith, Hope And Love (Love)

Love has plenty to discuss because Love was before, within and at the end of not only all things but also the establishment of the trio of Faith, Hope and Love.

The Definition of Love:

Love is defined as a verb, an action word. However, Love is also together a verb and noun, in the person of the constant loving person known as God, displayed through Christ Jesus and His Holy Spirit within the believer.

God always shows Himself to us who love and believe in Him. Scripture supports this by saying,

"And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them." - 1 John 4:16

But then there is the flip-side of the coin also - those that do not live a loving life, do not know God. Scripture states -

"Whoever does not love, does not know God because, God is love." - 1 John 4:8 "

One of the best known passages in detailing the definition of Love is found in what many believers know as The Love Chapter - 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

"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. Love never fails."

So, there is your standard for Love. Just make sure you are showing what Love is, what Love does, what Love keeps, what Love rejoices in, and what Love always succeeds at - then you will be on your way to being Christ-like. 
I fall woefully short in measuring up to this standard, especially with the "ALWAYS protects, ALWAYS trusts, ALWAYS hopes, ALWAYS perseveres." I know I do not Always operate in these wonderful manners, BUT I have a Heavenly Father who does. In fact, when I am at my weakest in anything, especially Love, He says I can Always count on Him - 

"But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." - 2 Corinthians 12:9

I like what 1 Corinthians 13:13 has to say about love. Paraphrased: When the dust settles from what we think life is all about, all that counts is faith, hope, and love - and even among these the greatest is Love. The actual verse reads -

"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."
God's Love To Us:

Throughout the entire Bible God's Love is spoken of and displayed in various ways. Paul reminded the believers in Rome and everyone throughout history of God's Love for humanity, especially through His Son Jesus when he said,

"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." - Romans 5:8 

"For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love" - Ephesians 1:4 

I have recently read a commentary that said the words "In love" that start the next sentence of the Ephesians 1:4 verse should actually be applied to the sentence before it. So, "in love" or due to Love, He chose us as His own and He chose us to function within love - which is Himself. He chose to supply that lifestyle as the main operating procedure to all humanity through Jesus, now each individual must decide what they want to do with Jesus.

Once that decision to accept Jesus as one's Personal Savior is made, look what Scripture says about His Love toward them:

"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?" - Romans 8:35 

"No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." - Romans 8:37-39

Another additional benefit in choosing Christ is that we receive the Spirit of Love - 

"For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline." - 2 Timothy 1:7

You probably have heard of the term "kindred spirits". As believers in a church body, we all need to have the same "kindred spirit of love" with God and each other in order that we may appreciate God's Love and be filled up to overflowing with God's Love. Love knows love. 

Paul, when writing to the church in Ephesus, confessed their foundation of Love by calling them "rooted and established in love". Knowing their good foundation, Paul encouraged the Ephesians "to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge" (Ephesians 3:18-19)

However, this is another verse which has a So That phrase, except it comes in the form of "that you". 

"...that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." 

Therefore, if you want to "be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God" then be "rooted" in His Love and keep a healthy respect for His Love that He showed toward us and continues to show on a daily basis. The whole idea or verse reads - 

"And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." 

What a lovely prayer for Paul to dictate for believers miles away and for us to adopt for others.

Our Love To God and Others:

All means everything. I know that was enlightening to some of you (sarcasm inserted), but the word "all" is important in this next verse. 

"Jesus replied, 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'" - Matthew 22:37 

The concept of "all" in this instruction from Jesus was so important He deemed it worthy of repeating three times, once for each of the three areas of focus. Therefore, our commitment, our Love must be Sold Out for Christ.

God so loved us that He gave His one and only Son (John 3:16), so it is only natural and highly beneficial that believers love God back with our whole lives. Plus, if we love God with our everything, all the rest will happen the way God intended. 

Jesus continues by saying in John 8:42, 

"If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own; but he sent me." 

Be sure God is your Father through accepting His love gift - Jesus. His Love is enough, but there are too many additional benefits to reject.

Since God is Love and has manifested His Love through Christ Jesus and continually displays His Love today through His Holy Spirit - I believe the natural and right thing to do is love God back. God accepts the dedication of my life and all those who place their trust in His Son, Christ Jesus, then says through John, 

"If you love me, you will obey what I command." - John 14:15 

This naturally begs the question - so, what do you command? 

"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another." (John 13:34) 

"The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith." (1 Timothy 1:5) 

How do you know if your faith is sincere? How do you know if you have a good conscience? How do you know if your heart is pure? The boxes are checked in the positive if you operate in God's Love.

What does operating in God's Love look like? First, Jesus connects the dots for everyone who is Not a believer and is watching the Christians and by doing so gives a somber warning to believers, saying -

"By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (John 13:35)

However, God gets specific on who we are to love. 

"But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." (Matthew 5:44) 

"If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?" (Matthew 5:46) 

Also, "...honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as yourself." (Matthew 19:19) 

Back then many churches, in many different locations needed to hear and see the love of God displayed through the believers (Body of Christ). Now, that same display of God's love through Christians, across denominations, is needed more than ever! 

"Therefore show these men the proof of your love and the reason for our pride in you, so that the churches can see it." (2 Corinthians 8:24)

Another specific group of people that God targets to be sure to receive love is wives. Just in case there is any uncertainty about who should be providing that love - no, it is not society, pets, or a support group (although those things can help in the absence of) - it is the husband.

"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her" - Ephesians 5:25 

"In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself." - Ephesians 5:28 

"However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself," - Ephesians 5:33 

"Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them." - Colossians 3:19

Our attitude and speech should be saturated with love. Galatians 5:13 talks about the quality of our service, one-to-the-other by the attitude we bring to the table. 

" not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love." 

I am all for telling the truth, but Scripture tells us to be careful in the delivery of it. 

"Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ." - Ephesians 4:15 

Choose your words and tone carefully and speak them in love.

Notice that Love is the first item on the list that is mentioned as one of the Fruits of the Spirit. 

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." – Galatians 5:22-23

Fruit is a by-product of a tree or plant. In the same line of thinking, love as a fruit should be a by-product of being grafted in The Vine, Christ Jesus through His Holy Spirit. You and I will produce lovely relationships and other things in our lives by being rooted in God's Love. Paul echoes this idea by stating -

"Do everything in love" (1 Cor. 16:14), 

"the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love." (Galatians 5:6)

However, our expression of Love must be genuine. And if we continue daily to practice His presence, stir our faith, and spread His Hope then our path will be aligned with Him. Paul conveys this idea like this -

"Love must be sincere." (Romans 12:9). 

"Flee from all this [the world] and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness." (1 Tim. 6:11)

"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing." (1 Cor. 13:1-3)

For my unbelieving audience - "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." (James 1:17) This means everything else other than the good and perfection from God comes from other sources. Does God allow those sources to influence your life? Yes, obviously. He has also given you the power of choice, to choose a relationship with Him that was built on Love, by Love and expects you to carry that compassion of Love to others - should you accept Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior of your life. I hope and pray you make that decision.

For my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, life is difficult at times, but loving God is simple, because He first loved us. If you have not already, I encourage you to cultivate a passion to Love-On God and have His Love flow through you as much as possible, even when it is a struggle to do so.

The Triad of Faith, Hope and Love is unified by Love. Paul says in Colossians 3:14 -

"And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity." 

Therefore, let us clothe ourselves - our minds, our attitudes, our speech, our actions and relationships, our Faith and our Hope with the Love of God.