The word “love” appears 684 times in the Bible, therefore, it must be an important topic! God apparently had much to say about love—from how much He loves us, to how we can love Him in return, to how we can love other people.
While we can’t explore every passage on love, I have picked just a few to observe from the Old and New Testaments. These passages teach us what it means to truly love in every relationship. Let’s dive in!
Love the Lord
In the gospels, Jesus teaches that paramount to loving others is to love the Lord with every fiber of our beings. We must love the Lord before we can love anyone else well. He told us to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength,” (Mark 12:30).
Our heart, our soul, our mind, and our strength are the essence of who we are.
If we don’t love Him with all our mind, we entertain it with sinful thoughts toward others.
If we don’t love Him with all our heart, it will become wayward very quickly.
That is why it is so important to spend time with the Lord in His Word and in prayer every day, kindling your love for Him and growing in your understanding of His love for you.
Don’t forget that “We love because He first loved us,” (1 John 4:19). The only reason we can love the Lord our God is because He first poured out His perfect love on us. He is committed to relationship with His people for the long haul.
Right before the Passover, before Christ went to our cross, the Gospel of John tells us that, “Jesus, knowing that His hour had come that He would depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.” (John 13:1)
If He loved His disciples and followers to the end, He will certainly do the same for us.
Love Your Neighbor
“And behold, a lawyer stood up to put Him to the test, saying, ‘Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’ He said to him, ‘What is written in the Law? How do you read it?’ And he answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.’ And He said to him, ‘You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.’” – Luke 10:25-28
Following these verses, Jesus tells the parable of the Good Samaritan.
A man was heading to Jericho from Jerusalem and was brutally attacked, robbed, and left to die. Out of the blue, a priest comes and passes right by him without a thought. Then, a Levite does the exact same thing. But a Samaritan, a cultural misfit, walks by, sees the man, and stops. While the priest and Levite did nothing to help, even though they were capable of doing so, the Samaritan proved to be the true good neighbor. He showed genuine compassion and love by ministering to someone near him in need.
Likewise, our neighbor is anyone near to us who is in need.
Perhaps you know of a church member that has been struggling through cancer treatment. Writing them a handwritten card or offering to bring them a meal would be a practical way to display Christ-like compassion.
Love Your Enemies (yes, you read that right!)
“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.” – Matthew 5:44-45
This is one hard command to swallow. It’s even harder because that was exactly what Jesus did; He wasn’t an empty talker. He lived what He preached. Even while we were in war against God, He lavished mercy and grace upon us in the most sacrificial way, “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us,” (Romans 5:8).
Sometimes it’s hard enough to love our families, but our enemies, too?In our culture, the word “love” is connected to affection and feelings. It’s no wonder we struggle to love those who have hurt us so deeply and painfully. But as Christians, we live by God’s definition of love, not the world’s. Click To Tweet
In our culture, the word “love” is often connected to warm affection and fond feelings. Using this definition of love, it’s no wonder we struggle to love those who have hurt us so deeply and painfully.
But as Christians, we live by God’s definition of love, not the world’s.
My pastor explains this biblical love as a combination of mercy and grace. Mercy means erasing the debt that person owes you and not holding anything against them. Bestowing grace upon your enemies means wanting good for them and showing love to them (See 1 Peter 3:9).
The main way we are to do this is by praying for our enemies when they come to mind, instead of stewing on the negative emotions associated with them. This means even if we don’t feel affection, we can still show love.
God’s Steadfast Love Endures Forever
Psalm 136 is an incredible chapter in the Bible rehearsing the never-ending, steadfast love of the Lord. It illustrates that He is mighty, the Creator and Defender of all, and that His love is always there.
The first verse goes like this:
“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. For His steadfast love endures forever.” – Psalm 136:1
The first few verses declare He is ultimately above every other god and every other lord—For His steadfast love endures forever.
Then it speaks of how our God created the heavens, the earth, the waters, the sun, and the moon—For His love endures forever.
It walks us through the Exodus, reminding us of when God parted the Red Sea, let His people pass through it, and how He led His people through the wilderness—For His steadfast love endures forever.
The following verses make us cower in holy fear as we see the mighty power of God who can bring down the mightiest kings—For His steadfast love endures forever.
This Valentine’s Day let’s praise God for His steadfast love that endures forever. A perfect love that equips us to love God, our neighbors, and even our enemies better than we ever could on our own.