Love in Scripture
Love in scripture includes romantic love, but is much broader than that.
According to Jesus, the greatest commandment is to â€œâ€˜Love the
Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all
your mind.â€™. . . â€˜And the second is like it: â€œLove your
neighbor as yourselfâ€�â€™â€� (Matthew 22:37, 39).
Love of God is predicated on Godâ€™s love for us. â€œWe love
because he first loved usâ€� (1 John 4:19). He showed his love by
creating us, providing for us, and seeking relationship with us through
Jesus. â€œFor God so loved the world that he gave his one and only
Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal lifeâ
€� (John 3:16).
Our love for other people--lovers, families, and friends--also is
predicated on Godâ€™s love for us. â€œThis is how we know what
love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay
down our lives for our brothersâ€� (1 John 3:16). In fact, love is
Godâ€™s very essence. â€œDear friends, let us love one another, for
love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God
and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God,
because God is loveâ€� (1 John 4:7-8).
We are to love our neighbors, and our neighbors are not just those
who live near us. When a lawyer asked, â€œWho is my neighbor?â
€� Jesus answered with the Parable of the Good Samaritan, a
foreigner who showed mercy to a man who had been beaten, robbed
and left for dead by the roadside. He concluded by asking â€œ[Who]
was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?â€�
When the lawyer answered, â€œThe one who had mercy on him,â€�
Jesus told him, â€œGo and do likewiseâ€� (Luke 10:30-37). In
other words, the point is not to limit love by figuring out who to love,
but to demonstrate love by helping those who need it.
Godâ€™s love is to reach beyond those we know and care about to
embrace all people, even those we donâ€™t like. And again itâ€™s
predicated on Godâ€™s love: â€œYou have heard that it was said, â
€˜Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.â€™ But I tell you: Love
your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be
sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil
and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteousâ€�