What is Love?
February is the month of love—at least, that is what they tell us. February fourteenth is Valentine's Day, the day of love. Everyone gives the one they love a valentine, a card expressing their love; gifts are given, and couples go out to celebrate. It's a festive tribute to love. But is this love? February 10 begins the season of Lent. Lent is the church's traditional time leading up to the death of our Messiah Yeshua (Jesus). It is a time to give up something we love: candy, TV, something to afflict the soul. But is this love?
1 John 4:7 tells us, "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God." Paul tells us in Romans 13:9 that the Torah is summed up by this statement: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Yeshua expands this commandment to love one another in John 13:34 at Yeshua's last Seder meal with His disciples: "A new commandment I give you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another." Now, this new commandment wasn't really a new commandment, but to love as Yeshua loved us was.
Matthew records in Matthew 5:43-44, "You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself and hate your enemy,' but I tell you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you." We see that Yeshua expanded this commandment to the point that we must love at all times. This is what separates us from the kingdom of darkness; this is what separates us from the world. John 13:35: "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."
So what is love and what does it mean to love like Yeshua?
God always leads the way. He is our example. John 3:16 tells us, "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." Paul tells the Philippians in chapter 2:5-8, "Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Messiah Yeshua, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant, and being made in the likeness of men. and being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross."
We see that God has shown us love, and to love is to be a servant. Philippians 2:3-4 tells us, "Do nothing from selfish or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely lookout for your own interests, but also for the interests of others." We are to serve one another and submit to one another (Ephesians 5:21).
Paul tells us of the excellence of love in 1 Corinthians 13. He says, "Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails." This is something to attain, no doubt, but it is attainable.
But if we are truly going to follow our Master's example, then He tells us in John 15:13, "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends." We too must lay down our lives by humbling ourselves and submitting to one another. What we need to give up is not candy or cookies but our lives for one another. We need to be servants of the Lord by loving one another without hypocrisy, and not just in word but in deed. As 1 John 3:16-17 puts it, "We know love by this, that he laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has the world's goods, and beholds his brother (neighbor) in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in Him?"
February fourteenth is just one day; Lent is just one season; let us love for a lifetime.