LIKE HAPPINESS and a host of other good things, love is best defined by telling what it does. The very best way to describe love is to show it. Somehow there is -very little ambiguity in actions!
Since God knows everything, He knew this. And since God IS love (I John 4:8), we are not surprised to learn that He not only loved the world but showed that love by sending His Son to die for the sins of the world (I John 4:9).
Because God actively loved those who hated Him (I John 4:10) and who did not deserve love (Romans 5:8), showed that Divine love (agape, it is called) does not have to love IN RETURN FOR LOVE, but can actually lead the way by LOVING THE UNLOVABLE! It is beyond friendship. It is far more than sentiment. It does not depend on the worthiness of the person being loved at all, but solely on the God-like nature of the one who loves.
Plato could love the “lovely,” and Aristotle could love those who “arouse affection.” Most of us could do as much. “But God shows His love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us!” (Romans 5:8). Because God loved the unworthy, we are to do the same. Because He shows His love by doing good to the just and the unjust, we are to do this, too (Matthew 5:43ff; Galatians 6: 10).
God’s love is not man’s love, and man can love as God does only because God loved him first (I John 4:11), and then poured His love into man’s heart through the Holy Spirit given God’s children (Romans 5:5). Love is a fruit of the Spirit; it is not a work of the flesh (Galatians 5:22).
The Christian is rooted in love (Ephesians 3:18), but then is to grow up in love (Ephesians, 4:16). He loves truth (II Thessalonians 2:10), but speaks the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). He puts on a new nature, created in God’s likeness (Ephesians 4:24). He can be tenderhearted, forgiving or kind — because he imitates God, and God is just that way (Ephesians 4:32 — 5:2). He has been taught by God to love (I Thessalonians 4:9).
The individual who loves God will keep His commandments (I John 5:3), but the greatest of these is to love (Mark 12:28ff ). Anyone who loves God will love God’s children (I John 5:1), and no one who hates God’s children really loves God (I John 4:20).
What is love? Love is being like God and doing what God does — because God is love! Are you like God?