It’s something each of us wants, but many never find: genuine love. All around us we can see an endless pursuit of love. We look for it everywhere: in our homes and families, friendships, dating relationships, marriage and religion. But what is love, and where can we go to find lasting love for our lives?
What is Love?
Love is often described in terms of feelings. But true love — what the New Testament writers called agape love — is not based on feelings at all. Agape love can change your life and set you free. And it all begins with a decision you must make.
As we experience God’s love and respond in love, we will be transformed into His image.
Agape love is a decision to consider the needs of others ahead of your own needs … to live sacrificially … to give without demanding a return … to overlook an offense. Most of all, agape love is a decision to receive and respond to God’s love. For all our efforts to love others will not bear fruit unless we are responding to His love. As the Bible says, “We love, because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
Thus, our understanding of love begins with perhaps the most frequently quoted verse in the Bible, John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”
This is what the Bible calls being “born-again” or born from above.” In this new-birth experience, God reveals His incredible love to you. This miracle will produce in you a new nature that will allow you to love others like never before — regardless of their response to your love.
New birth is just the start. To grow in love we must continue receiving God’s love and forgiveness (see Luke 7:47). Listen to the apostle Paul’s prayer for the Christians in Ephesus: “that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to al the fullness of God: ( Eph. 3:17B-19).
Not only do we need to be “rooted and grounded” in God’s love for us, we also need an ever-increasing comprehension of His love toward us.
As we experience God’s love and respond in love, we will be transformed into His image. We will also be fulfilling His greatest command: to love God and our neighbors (Mark 12:29-31). This love must inevitable overflow into actions (1 John 3:13). Ultimately, the verifiable witness of our love for each other will prove to the world that we are truly disciples of Jesus (see John 13:34).