What is Love? That is a great question. The word love is used in so many ways that it becomes important to define what we mean by love. I went to dictionary.com to look up the word love. What I found surprised me.
This blog post is part 7 of the series Eight Steps to Experiencing His Victory
The definition of love includes fourteen nouns, seven verbs, one verb phrase, and six idioms for a total of twenty-eight definitions. No wonder the word love can be taken so many different ways.
- I love pizza and ice cream
- I love school
- I love to read
- I love God
- I love my wife
- I love my children
- I love my teacher
- I love my dog
- We made love
- Love - a score of zero in a tennis match
Even the use of the word love speaks of different levels of relationship and intimacy. My love for my wife is very different from the love that I have for my children. My love of my children has different levels of meaning and commitment than my loving a teacher. And most assuredly, my love for my dog is different than my love for all of the people above.
Love is a relational word. It has to do with relationships. When you describe a person as loving it always connected with how they treat others.
In order to get a better understanding of what I mean when I say that God is love, I want to look at five different relationships the Bible reveals that God has with every person and how He shows His love in each of these relationships.
Just like we show love differently in each of our roles (husband to wife, daughter to mother, father to son, friend to friend, pet owner to pet), God also shows His love uniquely in each of His roles.
I have selected five key roles that God fulfills in His relationship with us. There are many more, but the following five are critical in our understanding the richness and full dimension of the love of God. God is our Creator, Lord, Judge, Savior, and Father.
God is our Creator
The very first words of the Bible describe God as the Creator. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1). The Bible reveals that God created everything, including you and me, through the person of Jesus Christ.
All things came into being through Him [Jesus], and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. (John 1:3)
For by Him [Jesus] all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things have been created through Him and for Him. (Colossians 1:16)
In six days, God created the heavens and the earth. The final thing God created was man. He created man very differently than all of the rest of creation. Everything else was created by God speaking and it coming into existence, but He created man by shaping the dust of the earth and breathing His life into it so that man became a living being.
Let’s look at what the Bible says about the creation of man:
26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26-28)
7 Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. 8 The Lord God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed. (Genesis 2:7-8)
18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” 19 Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. 22 The Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. 23 The man said,
“This is now bone of my bones,
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.”
24 For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. (Genesis 2:18-25)
God created man to be in fellowship with Him. The love of God motivated Him to create others in His image to love and be loved. Throughout the Scriptures you hear the Lord repeat over and over words like these:
I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you. (Genesis 17:7)
God is a personal being and He desires personal relationship with His creation. What a wonderful gift God has given for us to be able to have person union and communion with the awesome, creator of the universe.
God’s heart is even seen in the last book of the Bible, the book of Revelation. After God comes and judges evil there is a new heaven and a new earth and God comes to dwell in the midst of His people. Revelation 20:1-7 says:
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, 4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”
5 And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He *said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” 6 Then He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. 7 He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.
God’s goal from before the creation of the world was and is to be in relationship with His people. Those who put their trust in Christ will live with God forever.
God is Our Lord
There can be no doubt that the creator is greater than His creation. The Bible translates two names of God as Lord: adonai (300 times) and Yaweh (7,000 times). When we call God Lord, we are saying that He is master and ruler. God is the supreme ruler of all that He created.
As creator and Lord He has the right and authority to establish His divine commands for all of His creation to follow. He is the source who determines what is right and true. He has given us commandments to obey and will hold us accountable for our responses.
Some people struggle with the thought that God is Lord. Maybe you’ve heard a little kid say, “You’re not the boss of me.” The idea is who do you think you are to tell me what I can or cannot do? There is a natural streak in us all to rebel against authority. We all have the urge to stick out toe on the lawn with the sign saying, “Do Not Step on the Grass.”
When God placed Adam in the garden, He commanded them not to eat of a certain tree of the garden. Did you hear the “C” word? God commanded Adam. He did not make a suggestion. He made a command.
Breaking the command had consequences. He warned that if he ate from the tree he would die. God was not trying to restrict Adam, He was trying to save him from death. You see sin always brings forth death.
God is a good God. He is loving and He wants what is best for us. Therefore He gives us His commandments.
Some look at God’s commands as restrictive rather than protective. They see them as taking all the fun out of life rather than experiencing life as God intends it to be.
God loves us enough to tell us what will harm us. A loving parent tells a child to stay away from a hot stove or makes them play in the fenced yard away from the busy street. The seeming restrictions are not meant to cause unnecessary pain but to protect from real pain.
The Ten Commandments are a perfect example of how much God loves us. The Ten Commandments are given to protect and keep our relationships whole. Have you ever noticed that even though many of the commandments are given as prohibitions, that they are actually meant to make relationships flourish and God’s blessings to flow?
The first three commandments deal with our relationship with God. We are to:
- Have no other gods before Him
- We shall not make any idols
- We shall not take the Lord’s name in vain
We already mentioned that God desires to have a relationship with us. He calls it a covenant. A covenant is when two parties agree to enter into a relationship with one another. The covenant is that He will be our God and we will be His people.
God is calling us to an exclusive relationship with Him as God and He refuses to allow any other relationships with other gods or versions of god we create and put in physical form. These things break the relationship with God as a husband cheating on his wife.
To take the name of the Lord in vain is not just swearing or cursing. It is to forget his holiness, splendor, and majesty and somehow treat Him common or just a “good ol’ boy.” You know, the man upstairs.
Even the commandment to keep the Sabbath is to take time out of our busy lives and focus on God and the things of God. He wants a relationship with us. He understands our need to work and earn a living. He also wants us to take time to honor Him on the day He set aside for rest.
The fifth commandment tells us to honor our fathers and mothers. It comes along with a promise of possessing the land. God wants us to have a right attitude toward our parents. True love always seeks to honor and respect those God has placed over us in authority.
God commands us not to murder, commit adultery, steal, bear false witness, or covet things of our neighbor. These things seem so obvious that they should not have to be mentioned. Each of these things brings destruction to the lives of others:
- Murder robs a person of his or her life and negatively impacts the family and community. Just think about how many people have never been born because of a murder. When a person is murdered any children they might have had will never exist. When one person is killed it could stop thousands from being born.
- Adultery brings destruction and death not only to the husband and wife but also the families that are involved. How many families have been ruined because of choices people have made to have sex outside of marriage? How many children grow up in one-parent families because of the infidelity of a spouse?
- Stealing has a negative impact on the person who is losing property. Theft increases the prices we pay for everything. Additional costs are passed on to those who pay to make up for all the merchandise that is stolen. How many lives have been destroyed by those who willfully took that which was not there own?
- Lying about a person affects their reputation. It also deceives the people listening to the false witness. How many people have lost a job, a contract, a spouse, or other relationships because of lies being spoken about them?
- Coveting is wanting something that is not yours. It really is the basis for many of the things listed above. It’s when we covet someone’s property that we steal. It’s when we want to get back at a person that we lie about them. It’s when we want a person’s wife that we seek to commit adultery.
Each and every one of these commandments is designed by God to protect relationships and treat people with love. God loves us so much He is willing to tell us the ways that we can experience His life to the fullest.
Ron Mehl wrote a book on the Ten Commandments called The Tender Commandments because He recognized that each commandment was God’s loving direction to keep us away from the pain caused by these things.
If we learn to love people the way that God loves, we will never break one of these commandments. Jesus shows us how this might be. When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment of the Law, He answered:
“‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the great and foremost commandment. 39 The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40)
All the commandments God has ever given can be fulfilled by loving God’s way. Jesus said to Love God with everything we have and love people the way we love ourselves. The God of love provides commands of love to teach us the way to experience the abundant life Jesus promised.
God is Our Judge
God is both Creator and Lord and out of His position of lawgiver comes the need for His being a judge.The necessity of God being a judge arises from the sin of man who has chosen to rebel against God’s commands and harm other people.
We have mentioned that sin brings forth death. Sin not only affects the one who is doing the sin but the ones who are being sinned against. Sin brings death to the guilty and to the innocent.
I don't have to go into detail about the effects of sin because we see its destruction on a daily basis. The root of sin is rebellion against God and His commandments. It is man saying, I will do what I want, when I want, and how I want.
God is love and so He must do something to bring justice to the wickedness of man. One of the leading questions people ask when you talk about God is that if God is love then why does He allow all the evil in the world.
God’s love requires judgment against sin and sinful men. Here are some of the verses that speak about God’s righteous anger against sin:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, (Romans 1:18)
But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, 6 who will render to each person according to his deeds: 7 to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; 8 but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation. (Romans 2:5-8)
3 But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; 4 and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. (Ephesians 5:3-5)
6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. (Ephesians 5:3-5 )
For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, (Colossians 3:6)
Jesus talks about the condition of people who do not believe in Him. He says:
17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:17-18)
Jesus makes three things very clear:
- He did not come to judge the world, He will do that at the Second coming.
- Jesus came to save the world
- All those who do not believe are already condemned. Jesus does not have to judge the world because it is already judged and everyone stands condemned.
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)
Listen to what Paul says happened to mankind because of the sin of Adam from Romans Chapter 5:
- Through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all have sinned (v12)
- Through the transgression of one the many died (v 15)
- The judgment arose because of the one transgression resulting in condemnation (v 16)
- By the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one (v 17)
- Through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men (v 18)
- Through the one man’’s disobedience the many were made sinners (v 19)
- Sin reigned in death (v 21)
God’s love is so great for people that He doesn’t want anyone to come under His wrath and judgment. He does not want to punish people. He wants to save them.
“For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,” says the Lord GOD. “Therefore, repent and live.” (Ezekiel 18:3)
The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)
This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:4)
God had such a desire to help those trapped in sin that He sent Jesus as Savior.
Jesus is Our Savior
Listen to how Jesus describes God’s love for those who were trapped in sin and under His wrath and judgement and what He did for them, for us:
16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:16-18)
It is the love of God that motivated Him to send Jesus to save us from our sin. God loves us so much that He gave Jesus as a gift for us. Jesus was the only person who could be born into this world without sin and reverse the process of death and destruction that Adam started with His sin.
Jesus loves you so much that He was willing to come to earth and offer Himself as an offering for sin. Jesus lived a sinless life on the earth. He obeyed God in everything. He overcame every temptation that the devil threw His way and overcame.
The Bible calls Jesus the second Adam because He came to reverse all the things that Adam set in motion. Now let’s look at Romans Chapter 5 again, but this time see what Jesus accomplished through His life, death, and resurrection:
- The grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ abound to many. (v 15)
- The free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification. (v 16)
- Much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. (v 17)
- Through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. (v 19)
- Through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous. (v 20)
- Even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ. (v 21)
God doesn’t want a single person to perish. He has made a way to be saved from the wrath to come through Jesus Christ. He wants everyone to receive the free gift of Salvation through Christ. He has made a way.
The sad thing is that some people reject the gift. They will not humble themselves, repent of their sins, and receive the righteousness available only through the person of Jesus Christ.
Here is how the Bible describes those who reject Jesus, the gift of God:
19 This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21 But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.” (John 3:19-21)
God has done everything for people to be saved. It is tragic that some will refuse this great gift of love and come under the wrath of God. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
God is Our Father
The good news is that we can come to Jesus and He will save us from the wrath of God. We will be forgiven and receive eternal life from Him. More than that we will become children of the Living God. God will be our Father.
12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:12-13)
I know that many people say that everyone is God's child, but that is not what the Bible says. It says that we are given the right to become children of God when we believe and receive Jesus as Lord. We are born of God and become children of God when we believer in Jesus.
Our position in God is all dependent upon us being in Christ. We must accept Christ to be born again of the Spirit and become children of God.
The Apostle Paul puts it this way in Romans 8:15-17:
15 For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.
God’s amazing love can be seen through all that He has done. God loves is so great that He:
- Created you to have a relationship with Him
- Gave you commandments to help you experience life as He intends it to be
- Judges sin in righteousness and will not allow evil to go unpunished
- Made a way for you to be saved from the wrath of God through faith in Jesus Christ
- Adopts you into His family and makes you His child when you trust in Jesus
See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. (1 John 3:1)
Have You Come to Jesus to Be Saved?
If you’ve never accepted God’s free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, then there is no better time than right now. Accept God’s great love and forgiveness that is only available through Jesus. Admit your sin and need of a savior and come to Him.
If you are not sure how to go about, I have provided a pray that will help you talk to God and come to Christ. Read it through to make sure that you agree with the prayer. If you do, then open up your heart and speak it out loud to God. He will hear your prayer.
Father, I come to you and acknowledge that I am a sinner and helpless to save myself. I need a savior.
I come into agreement with You that I have sinned against you. I have gone my own way and done my own thing. Please forgive me for my sin.
I repent and turn away from my sin to come to You. I acknowledge that Jesus Christ is my only hope of salvation. I confess with my mouth that Jesus is my Lord. I believe with my heart that You raised Him from the dead.
I receive Your gift of salvation knowing I can do nothing to earn it. I thank you that the blood of Jesus cleanses me from all sin. I thank You that in confessing Christ my spirit is born again and I am at peace with You.
Thank you for accepting me. I acknowledge that You are Lord and I give my life to You. Lead me in Your way of life.
I Want to Learn More
The first link is for you if you did not accept Christ today, but are interested in learning more about God and His plan for your life.
If you click on the link, you will be taken to a page on my website where you can sign up to receive a series of emails that go into more detail about who God is and His plan for your life.
I Accepted Christ
The second link is for you if you accepted Christ into your life today.
If you click on this link, I will rejoice with you in the decision you made to follow Christ and send you a series of emails that will tell you who you are in Christ and how you can grow in your relationship with God.
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