Defining Love

The Twenty-fourth Day of Advent

A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. John 13:34-35    

How does one define love? A sense of attraction to or affection for another? Unselfish concern for another? Love may show these characteristics but even together they cannot define love.

Only God can do that, for he is love (I John 4:7-8). The Hebrews understood this. Their word “chesed” specifically denotes “loving-kindness”, embodying mercy, grace and steadfastness. It is central to Hebrew theology and ethic in scripture, and integral to God “repairing” his creation. Beyond feeling or affection, attraction or benevolence, loving-kindness is a virtue itself: it is God’s very nature.

When Jesus says “Love one another as I have loved you”, God himself gives this command. The Creator and Lord of all has become finite human in his son, and in his sovereignty, he sacrifices him to remove sin and to restore relationships.

So, we love one another as he loved us:

In the midst of life’s struggles

Just as we are, broken and lost

In spite of our failures, knowing god has greater plans for us

In spite of our sinfulness

The advent of Christ leads us to consider what kind of love causes a holy creator God to make that sacrifice for us, and then command us to do likewise.

Seth l. Witcher, Jr. D.D.S.

Author: Aaron Hufty

Aaron Hufty is the Associate Pastor for Worship and Music at FBCSA.

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