What is Love?

The other day, while reading in 1 John, I came across this verse:

“The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him,” (1 John 2:10).

It jumped off the page! There is no cause for stumbling inside the one who loves his brother? Wow. Can love really do that? I began thinking about what causes us to stumble. Sin begins in the heart, so things like anger, hatred, jealousy, arrogance, impatience, pride, lust—the list could go on. Any one of these things, living inside a person, can lead that person down a dark path. For example, anger can lead to cursing someone, degrading them, or even murder. Jealousy can lead to coveting what someone else has—could be their possessions, influence, looks, and more. Pride can cause us to look down on others and refuse to serve them or meet their needs.

Jesus provided the ultimate demonstration of what it means to love people. He extended mercy and grace. He even asked God to forgive those who were executing Him: “But Jesus was saying, ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing,’” (Luke 23:34).

In 1 John 2:10, we learn that if we love our brothers, we remain in the Light, and there is no cause for stumbling in us. This means that if we love others with the love of God, sin doesn’t have a foothold in us. There’s nothing negative for it to latch on to. All of those ugly things we discussed—cursing, coveting, arrogance, and more—are gone.

But why? What is love?

I’m going to share a passage that you may have read or heard before, and I encourage you to read it with fresh eyes. In this passage, love is defined for us. This is what the love of God looks like, and this is how we are to love others:

“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails…” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a).

Love is patient, kind, humble, selfless, forgiving, truth-seeking, and enduring. As verse 5 says, it does not take into account a wrong suffered. Love doesn’t hold a grudge, it forgives.

Reflect upon these verses about love. What stands out to you? Does this describe the way you interact with others—all others, not just the people you like?

Jesus tells us, “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” (Matthew 5:44).

Love our enemies. That means behave towards them in the way that 1 Corinthians 13 describes. We aren’t talking about pretending while anger fumes inside of you. We’re talking about a true, genuine expression of love that flows from your heart.

I want God to help me always walk in this love—to give preference to others, to be patient when someone or something tries to provoke me. To show others Who He is by loving as He does.

We can’t, of our own power, love like God without God’s help. If you’re struggling with negative attitudes or behaviors towards someone, talk to God. Ask Him to help you love that person, and begin praying for them. Pray for God to move in their life. Choose to view them as a valued individual, made in the image of our divine Creator. Make a conscious decision to love them and allow God’s love to flow through you.

Remember, we can’t love this way without God. We must abide in Him. He is the source of this unconditional, selfless love. We need Him to continuously pour into us so we can pour into others. Spend time with Him. Pray. Meditate on His word, and watch your life transform as you walk in the power of His love. When we love as He does, we walk without falling, because there is no cause for stumbling in us.

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