“We love because he first loved us.” — 1 John 4:19, NIV
The word “love” brings to mind unique images for different people. Maybe you think of someone with hearts in their eyes, swooning over a love interest. Perhaps you think of love for a sibling, parent or child. Another possibility is that you think of love for a pet or a possession. Do think of God’s love for us?
Biblical love is based on God’s love for us. Let’s examine the differences among worldly love, God’s love and biblical love.
The Downfalls of Worldly Love
“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” — 1 John 2:15–17, NIV
Worldly love is often based on ourselves and on our conditions and desires. As people, we have a tendency to think only of our own needs and wants and to put ourselves first. We often do not act lovingly towards others and, instead, we love based on our own emotions.
Here are some common qualities of worldly love:
Fortunately, there is One whose love does not hold any of these traits.
The Beauty of God’s Love
“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. 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.” — Ephesians 3:16–19, NIV
God’s love is not like ours. His love is different and better.
Here are some attributes of God’s love:
- Unconditional: God’s love is enduring. Unlike worldly love, God’s love does not leave us or give up on us when we fall short of His standards. He is always waiting for us to return to Him, and He died for sinners (Romans 5:8).
- Immense: God’s love is so vast that it is incomprehensible to humans. There is no limit to His love, and nothing can separate us from it (Romans 8:38–39).
- Perfect: God is love; thus, His love is perfect. It has none of the flaws or failings often found in human worldly love (1 John 4:7–21).
- Holy: God’s love is not like ours; He is holy, and His love is holy as well.
- Faithful: When it comes to God’s love, faithfulness is an important aspect to remember. He is faithful in His love and promises toward us even when we are not (Psalm 86:15).
- Merciful and Gracious: God’s love is full of mercy and grace. After all, we are far from perfect people. However, He still has a plan for our lives and a way for us to be with Him for eternity (Ephesians 2:4–5).
Acting on Biblical Love
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor 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.” — 1 Corinthians 13:4–7, NIV
As God deeply loves us, we can show love to others. The Bible teaches us how to love others in a way that honors God. What does it mean to love biblically? Here are a few ways we can love others in a godly manner, not a worldly one:
- Love with our actions: Biblical love depends on our actions. Even when we do not feel like loving someone, our actions can reflect Jesus.
- Put God first: In Matthew 22:37–29, Jesus tells us “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
- Pray for people: Prayer is one way we can love others biblically.
- Honor one another: We can honor one another by showing them the same respect and treatment we would want for ourselves (Romans 12:9–13).
No matter who we interact with, whether it be a significant other, family member, friend, stranger or even an enemy, we have a choice. We can choose to love like the world loves, or we can ground our relationships in biblical truth and strive to show God’s love to others.
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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.