20If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? I John 4:20
What is Christian Love? In the above verse, the Apostle John writes that if a man says that he loves God yet hates his brother, (fellow believer) he is a liar and the Love of God is NOT in him… If one says he or she possesses the “Love of God” within their own hearts but cannot recognize that same love and attitude of Love in another…then, there is a problem. The Bible says that the Spirit will bear witness of the Spirit….
Before I tackle the question, “What is Christian Love,” let me first address what it is NOT…A person who believes in Jesus Christ and possesses God’s love within…is NOT a perfect person. The Love of God is perfect, but the person who possesses God’s love is not perfect. No believer will be, nor can ever be, perfect (without fault or blemish) until we reach Heaven and receive our new “sinless” bodies liken unto Christ Jesus. Until that moment, we will “fall short of the Glory of God.” So, why try? Because Jesus Christ took our sins upon his back, gave his life for mine, and paid the penalty (death) for all sin (John 3:16) to reconcile mankind back to our Creator, God. That’s more than enough for me to be obedient in Christ in all things!
Now, that we have examined that Christian love is NOT a perfect love, but an obedient love…Let’s examine its characteristics:
4Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
5Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
6Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
7Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
As we read through the characteristics of Love (charity) found written in the Bible in I Corinthians, chapter 13, we see many fine, admirable qualities listed, but we do not see the word, “perfect.” Sadly, too many Christians try to seek out “perfection” in their relationships one with another. A Christian husband wants his wife to act and behave “perfectly” at all times. A Christian parents wants their son or daughter to act or behave “perfectly” at all times. A Christian son or daughter wants their parent(s) to act or behave “perfectly” at all times…Christians are not perfect; just forgiven!
The characteristics found in Christian Love are not conditional based upon the “other” person behaving perfectly towards us or treating us the way we wish to be treated…It is based upon how WE accept those “imperfect” things and situations that “do” happen to us and around us! I once heard someone say that if God wants us to learn how to love, he will place us with someone who is NOT easy to love! Ouch! Let’s face it, it’s easy to love the “lovable!” I mean who doesn’t love a cute little baby that oohs and aahs! But, what about the “aggravating” man who always steals your seat at church even though you leave your purse, Bible, and coat on the same bench week after week!
Sadly, I once witnessed an usher ask a lady in our church if she would mind sliding down the pew so that an older woman could sit down. To my surprise, the lady answered, “This is my spot. If she’d wanted to sit here she should have gotten here sooner!” Wow! The Love of God was certainly oozing from that person! (NOT!)….Too many times, our so-called “Christian Love” is based upon, “You treat me with love and respect…and I”ll treat you the same.” But, isn’t that exactly the same philosophy as the world’s standard? But, God is saying, “Go deeper.” Love the one that treats you badly, poorly, and without respect or honor.
I, too, have problems at times in this area of my life…It’s easy to sometimes get “puffed” up and stay mad when someone close to you mistreats you…I have close family members who say they love Jesus and attend the House of God very faithfully. They treat those within their “inner circle” with great admiration, kindness, and respect…But, they treat some of their closet family members very poorly and with little regard or kindness. Sad. Sometimes, it’s easier to accept and forgive the “weaknesses” of those who are NOT a part of our physical family than those who are! This shouldn’t be…We should love our spiritual brothers and sisters in Christ as well as our physical brothers and sisters in Christ!
God says for us to “love” our brothers and sisters in Christ…to show them kindness, patience, respect, and honor….The condition lies within us…not within the other person…If I am to love, I will have to love in the good times and bad; sad times and glad…
What is Christian Love? Well, to me it is accepting a person for who they are; not being perfect… It is loving them because God has placed them in our lives for His purpose and plan…It is praying for that person with a HOPE that God will work in them His will just as He is working His will in my own Life…Christian Love is learning to LOVE through the eyes of God and not just through my own eyes…In other words, seeing the bigger picture….
Today, you may be struggling with someone who is “hard” and “difficult” to love…We all do at times….Then, Praise God for it…Admit to God that you are struggling in this area, because HE already knows it, and He is wanting to teach you to Love through His eyes and not your own!
Christian Love!!! Loving through God’s eyes and not our own!! God loves ALL…He loves the sinner, but hates the sin (wrongful actions of disobedience towards God). Today, can you love with a Christian Love?
And, now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greateest of these is charity (Christian Love).
Remember, God Loves You!
Lin T. Rollins, Author