Quite simply, God is love.
In 1 John 4:7-8 Jesus’ disciple, John, describes God as the very definition of love, mostly clearly seen in Jesus’ death on the cross for our sins. It’s this love that compels us to love others—deeply, sacrificially, through acts of compassion. Here are some ways the Bible describes God’s love for us, and the love we are to have for others.
‘Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever.’
Human love can be fleeting, but God’s love is eternal. He knew and loved us even before we were born and continues to love us without limits.
‘But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.’
God’s love accompanies his other qualities—his compassion, patience, and faithfulness. In Psalm 86, we learn that he hears our cries for mercy, and responds with abounding love.
Ephesians 2:4 and John 3:16
‘But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.’
‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.’
God most powerfully demonstrates his love for us in his Son, Jesus. While we were dead in sin, Jesus died so we could be forgiven and made alive. He gives us grace because of his great love for us.
‘And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, 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.’
The enormity of Jesus’ love is the foundation of the Christian faith. Grasping how much he loves us leads to ultimate fulfillment—a life rich in the fullness of God and all he has to offer.
‘He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.’
Time and time again, we see how God loves those who are vulnerable: the orphan, the widow, those in great need and far from home. And he calls us to do the same.
1 John 3:16
‘This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.’
John follows on from this verse with the simple words, ‘we love because he first loved us’ (1 John 4:19). God’s sacrificial love compels us to love others, putting their needs above our own.
‘”Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”’
Jesus says the greatest command is to wholeheartedly love God, and to love our neighbours—both those who are near and far—as much as we love ourselves.
‘Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.’
The way of love brings healing, especially in times of conflict. While it can be difficult, choosing to love someone—even when they have wronged you—can pave the path of peace.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
‘Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, 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.’
This is what real love looks like in action: treating others with kindness, being humble, seeking the good of others, not holding people’s wrongs against them, delighting in what is true.
1 Peter 1:22
‘Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.
God isn’t interested in superficial displays of affection. He commands us to love others genuinely, from the heart.