What It Means to Love

Put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.

–Colossians 3:14

The Bible commands us to be unified with our brothers and sisters in Christ. But what about those Christians we disagree with—or just don’t like? How can we be unified with them?

The answer is love. In Colossians 2:2, Paul prayed that the Colossians would be “knit together in love.” In movies and novels, love is an exhilarating surge of emotion accompanied by birds singing and violins playing. But in the Bible, love is not an emotion; it’s an action. Colossians 3:14 says, “Put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.” Paul was not saying we should pretend to love people; he was saying that love is a choice we make. If we act in a loving way, then we will experience true unity.

If you want to learn how to show genuine, practical love, a good passage to memorize is Philippians 2:1–8. In these verses, Paul gave three characteristics of genuine love.

First of all, genuine love is giving, not selfish. Paul said, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit” (Philippians 2:3). The primary cause of friction in any relationship is when one person is intent on getting his way regardless of the cost. True love is more interested in what it can give to the relationship than what it can get out of the relationship.

Second, genuine love is humble, not proud. Verse 3 says, “With humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves.” Pride is taking credit for our successes and blaming others for our failures. But humility is the willingness to overlook our successes and overlook other people’s failures. True love is humble.

Third, genuine love is compassionate, not indifferent. Verse 4 says, “Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” If you love somebody, you will try to meet their needs even to the point of great personal sacrifice.

The best example of genuine love is Jesus Himself. Verses 6–8 say, “Although He existed in the form of God, [He] did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself. . . . He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death.” When Jesus saw our need for salvation, He was willing to humble Himself and give up His rights as God in order to meet our need. That is the essence of genuine love. If we want to be unified with other people, we will put their interests and needs above our own.

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Today’s devotion is adapted from “Strength in Numbers” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2011.

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.

 

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