Our Bible verse for today: “God is love.” 1 John 4:9b (CSB)
Our thought for today: “Love begins in God.”
The apostle John tells us that “God is love”. It’s not just that God loves, which He does; nor is it just that love comes to us from God, which it does. John’s point is that God “is” love. It is His very nature – it’s who He is.
When it comes to defining love, the dictionary is really kind of lame. It simply says that love is deep affection and warm feelings for another person. “Rodale’s Synonym Finder” is a little more helpful. There we learn that synonyms for the word love include “affection, fondness, warmth, cherishing, adoration and devotion.” That’s better but it still misses the mark. We don’t really begin to understand the depths of love until we understand it as it applies to God.
The highest form of love, and the word used most often in the New Testament to refer to love, is “agape”. Agape is perfect love. It is unconditional love that it is freely bestowed upon the object of the love whether it is deserved or not. It is also a love without limits and therefore without end. It is perfect.
Since God “is” love, then agape describes His very essence. That means that God Himself is perfect love, He is complete love. His love could not get any better than it already is because He is perfect in all His ways, and love is who He is. That therefore means that His love is perfect. And as we learned a couple of days ago, when God expresses love for us it is an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3). That means that He loves us not only perfectly, but also without limits and without end.
Agape describes God, but it also describes what we experience from God. Agape is the highest expression of love. It is how God loves us and it is how we are to strive to love others. Also, it is how we are to love ourselves. Does that surprise you? Does it sound narcissistic? It’s not. As we will learn on another day, we have to learn to see ourselves as God sees us. And if He loves us with a perfect love, then that’s how we need to love ourselves. Not narcissistically, but perfectly.
Love begins with God because God is love. God’s love is perfect. It is without limits and it never ends. We must first learn to allow ourselves to be loved like that by God, and then we in turn must strive to love God, others, and ourselves in the same way. Those are theological truths that are important to know. Throughout the month we’ll focus on the practical application of those important truths.