The love of God: A driving force for active Christianity
How God’s love for us translates into us loving the others.
Under the key words “love, loving, to love,” the Bible tells us clearly and in many ways what “the love of God” and “loving God” means. The love of God is immeasurable in its content and it surpasses all knowledge. However, for a life in love, I do not need all knowledge, but rather a wholehearted love for Jesus and a firm will to learn from Him. Then Jesus reveals to me what it means for me personally to remain in love and to love my neighbor as myself in everyday life.
We love because Christ first loved us
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16.
“In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this 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 also ought to love one another.” 1 John 4:9-11.
Through His Son, God wants to lead all those who believe in Him to atonement for their sins and eternal life. To do this, we must forgive one another’s trespasses, just as Christ has forgiven us. We can only love each other from the heart and fulfill the commandment of Christ when we forgive one another in this way. “… bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.” Colossians 3:13-14.
Jesus tells us very clearly and unequivocally what it means to love Him: “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him. … If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word … He who does not love Me does not keep My words …” John 14:21-24. Therefore, if I think that I love Jesus, but do not keep His commandments, I am deceiving myself. Only through wholehearted faith and obedience can I keep myself from this self-delusion. A true Christian life should – and can – be a life in obedience to God’s eternal laws and commandments.
Read more here about what this means in practice: How is the love of God perfected in us?
Loving God = loving your neighbor
“‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:36-40. The love of God and faith in Him, who has all power in heaven and on earth, must be whole-hearted, not halfhearted, not mixed with love for the world and things in the world. (1 John 2:15-17.) Only then do we have the power to love people as they are, regardless of what wrong they have done or said in our opinion.
If our love grows cold because of other people’s injustice and sin, then that love is only human. And we quickly slip from love to hate. “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?” 1 John 4:20.
“By this all will know that you are Mys, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35.
“This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” John 15:12-13.
That is to say, we can learn to love one another the way Jesus loves us. The “life” that we should give up for our friends and those around us, is our egotism and our lusts and desires. Through God’s Spirit we can and should deny and put to death our self-love and self-righteousness. This is how we are preserved in the love of God and in fellowship with our fellow believers. How important this is for living together in marriage and with children. The relationship between husband and wife and with the children should be filled with heartfelt love and care. Then marriage becomes a happy and sustainable fellowship that gives children and youth security and guidance for a healthy development of body, soul and spirit.
Read more here: Selfish love or God’s love: Which do you have?
“That we … speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.” Ephesians 4:15-16. We must always remain in this love and in this growth up to Christ. Our love is righteous when everything we do in word or deed, we do in God’s name, and for Him. For we know that from the Lord we will receive the reward of the heavenly inheritance. (Colossians 3:23-24.)
Jesus, our example, received no honor from people in all His ministry, but sought only God’s honor. (John 5:41,44.) If we follow Jesus, neither do we seek and receive any honor from people when we love them, do good things for them and help them. This wholehearted love for Jesus is the driving force for active Christianity in “righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men.” Romans 14:17-18.
God be praised and thanked for the love with which He has called us to eternal life through Jesus Christ! His love truly surpasses all else.
You may be interested in reading more on our topic page about our relationship to God, or in these selected articles:
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®, unless otherwise specified. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.