These are the ingredients to a fruitful, fulfilling, and pleasing life.. The words are common themes which reoccur throughout the pages of the Bible. The term “Faith” (or belief) occurs 281 times in the New Testament. “Hope” occurs 60 times in the New Testament. “Love” (or charity) occurs 227 times in the New Testament
Notwithstanding the fact that these words appear with such great frequency in the Bible, they are commonly misused and misunderstood by people today. The world typically uses them in way which differs from how the Bible uses them. Clarification is in order.
1. Some think of “love” as mere lip service. They claim to love others; However, their actions are incongruent and not supportive of their words.
Christian love is not to be mere words. It is nice to say “I love you” (cf. 2 John 1; 3 John 1), but it is even better to demonstrate that love by actions.
Remember, talk is cheap. John wrote, “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us… My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:16-18).
Christian love should be genuine (Romans 12:9). The word translated “hypocrisy” (NASB, NKJV) or “dissimulation” (KJV) has to do with stage acting, or pretending to love. He wants our love to be genuine, sincere.
2. Some only express “love” in a reflexive (or reactionary) way, or in view of mutual benefit. These are loving and kind to those: (1) who are loving and kind to them (Matthew 5:46), or; (2) who it is thought might benefit them (Luke 14:12-14).
Christian love is different. It is expressed toward even: (1) personal enemies (Matthew 5:43-48); and (2) those who cannot commercially, economically, politically, or socially increase one’s status on earth (Luke 14:12-14).
We would do well to think on the love of God. He demonstrated His love toward us while we were yet ungodly, sinful enemies (Romans 5:6-11). “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). He didn’t wait around for us to make the first move. He took the initiative to make reconciliation possible (1 John 4:10-11).
3. Some think of “love” in cheap terms. That is, they think of love as costing nothing. They “love” only when it is convenient. They will not be inconvenienced.
Christian love is different. It is patterned after the love of Jesus (John 13:34 cf. Matthew 20:25-28; John 15:12-13; Ephesians 5:2; 1 John 3:16; 1 John 4:19). It is a love which gives (John 3:16; Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 5:25; 1 John 3:16-18). It is a love which serves (John 13:14-15, 34-35 cf. Matthew 20:25-28; Galatians 5:13). It is a love which sacrifices (John 15:12-13; 2 Corinthians 12:14-15; 1 John 3:16-18).
We should not be “fair-weathered friends” (Proverbs 27:10a; Job 6:15-ff; cf. Psalm 27:10 cf. Hebrews 13:5). So many are there in the good times but not the bad (Proverbs 14:20). We should be a people who are there rejoicing with those who rejoice, and weeping with those who weep (Romans 12:15). Christian love “suffers long” (1 Corinthians 13:4) and “endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7).
4. Some pervert the term “love” using it to describe sinful behavior. This is common among the cults. The term is used to justify all kinds of bizarre behavior.
Christian love toward humanity is showed by keeping the commandments of God (Romans 13:8-10; 1 John 5:2; 2 John 5-6). It is never contrary to His teaching. Christian love “does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth” (1 Corinthians 13:6).
Furthermore, Christian love toward God is also showed in the keeping of His commandments (John 14:15, 21, 23, 24; 15:21; 1 John 2:3-5; 5:2-3). Claiming to love God, and yet living contrary to His word will not work. The proof of our love for Him is in the pudding (submissive obedience to His will).
5. Some claim to “love” too much to correct. It may be that this is the case toward a family member, a friend, or a brother or sister in Christ.
Remember what we’re told of the Lord? We’re told, “For whom the Lord loves He chastens” (Proverbs 3:11-12; Hebrews 12:5-6). Jesus said, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten” (Revelation 3:19)
Christian love cares enough to correct (Galatians 6:1-2 cf. 5:14). Jimmy Jividen has written, “Perhaps the strongest test of brotherly love is the willingness to confront a brother who is involved in sin or error” (Koinonia, p. 33). Again, “One of the most unloving acts that one could do – is nothing – when he knows that a brother is being overcome by sin” (ibid, p. 147). Once more, “The neglect of discipline in the church is in reality a neglect of fellowship. It is a shallow and misguided love which prefers to let a brother go to hell rather than correct his wrong. Brotherly love cares enough to correct” (ibid, p. 179). We are to be involved in one another’s lives (Galatians 6:1-2; 1 Thessalonians 5:14; Hebrews 3:12-13; 10:24-25; James 5:20). We are to be helping one another into heaven. A “love” which is not doing this falls short of the love we are to have!