Human love is such a good feeling. We feel within ourselves an overwhelming desire to be attentive to, to help, to share ourselves with the one we love. We want to make another person's dreams come true, to protect them from hurt and harm. Scripture tells us, however, that this human feeling is not the biblical definition of love. (Even the pagans love their own and those who love them in return.) A real test of whether we have any grasp on love comes when we react to rejection or hatred with love. If the negative reaction of another does not in any way deter us from expressing good, if rebuff does not make us withdraw wounded and disheartened, then we may have caught a glimpse of what it means to love.
The love of Christ is what we as Christians are commanded to search for and find. If we are honest we will admit that we don't really know what the word love means. Usually we hope some bright day to be visited from above with a shower of love and to be filled throughout our being with this special ingredient that makes the world go around. From that moment on we hope this grand feeling will be shed abroad from us to all the people in our little world and maybe even to the far corners of the earth. But it just isn't so!
If love doesn't hit us one day like a bolt of lightning, how then do we acquire it? We begin with God. For God is love. We begin to be creative with our human feelings of love when we recognize the vast difference between the love of man and the love of God.
When we stand at the foot of the cross we catch our first glimpse of love with a capital "L." God so loved the world that He gave... When we recognize how undeserving we are to receive this gift, we are filled with gratitude and we say over and over, "Jesus, I love you." What we are really saying is, "Jesus, I feel so special because You loved me so much. I have such warm feelings toward You. I feel so included and welcome." For we love because He first loved us. But if we stay forever in this receiving state we have only experienced being loved. We have not loved in return.
Scripture tells us how to love Jesus. "If anyone loves me, he will keep my word." Did you know that obedience to the words of Christ is the outward observable behavior of our love for Him? Why is obedience the first step in loving? "Obedience to the truth cleanses us from selfishness and hatred." (1 Peter 1:22)
Doesn't that sound good! But where and how do we begin? We begin with the commands of Jesus: "Give to those who ask, and don't turn away from those who want to borrow. Don't resist violence! If you are slapped on one cheek, turn the other. Love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way you will be acting as true sons of your Father in heaven." (Matthew, Chapter 5) Remember that obedience to the Word of God is not based on "feeling like it" but being "willing to do it." For the love of God is not a "feeling" but a "willing." Then move on to Peter 2: 22. Here we see love in action. Jesus, "while being reviled did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats." Now include the love chapter.
Love is very patient and kind, never jealous or envious, never boastful or proud, never haughty or selfish or rude. Love does not hold grudges and will hardly notice when others do it wrong. It is never glad about injustice, but rejoices whenever truth wins out.
If you love someone you will be loyal to him no matter what the cost. You will always believe in him, always expect the best of him, and always stand your ground in defending him.
If I had the gift of being able to speak in other languages without learning them, and could speak in every language there is in all of Heaven and earth, but didn't love others, I would only be making noise. Even if I had the gift of faith so that I could speak to a mountain and make it move, I would still be worth nothing at all without love. If I gave everything I have to poor people, and if I were burned alive for preaching the Gospel but didn't love others, it would be of no value whatever. Make love your greatest quest. (1 Corinthians, Chapter 13)