What is Christian Love?

As Christians, understanding the concept of love is a foundational component in dealing with the world around us. For example, it is a critical element in guiding our actions when interacting with our spouse, our family, our neighbors and the world community in general. It is equally critical to the effective relationships between nations, businesses, corporations and each and every person on this planet.

Indeed, love is the one commandment that Jesus left us, and is the outward sign by which people will recognize us as disciples of Jesus:

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13: 34-35)

Saint Peter Healing the Cripple - Raising Tabitha - Masolino

Therefore, seeking a better understanding of the concept of Christian love is essential for all Christians, but especially for those in ministry or seeking to serve God. Consequently, the subsequent postings will focus on the developing a better sense of Christian love.

In fact, love is the sole criteria by which Jesus will separate the good from the evil on the Day of Judgment:

But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.

Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.

Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?

The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’

Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’ Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’ Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life. (Matt 25: 31-46)

Jesus the Good Shepherd

Somber words indeed. These words reflect the ultimate impact of our acts of love as well as our lack of such action. So now, with that said, let us continue on with our investigation into the subject of love.

Our definition of love is initiated with an exploration of Saint Paul’s definition of love as found in the book of “First Corinthians”. In subsequent postings we will amplify this definition by looking at specific examples of love provided by the words and actions of Jesus. So let us get started by presenting a core definition of love taken from scripture.

A Core Definition of Love

For a foundational definition of love we look at one of the letters written by Paul to the Corinthians:

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:1 – 13)

Saint Paul Preaching

One major point established in this passage is that love is essential to establishing and maturing a relationship with God. It also identifies a list of the attributes of love. We plan to expound upon these in subsequent postings.

We have presented a number of posting that address the principles of Christian Love. Each of them is reinforced by examples taken from the life and words of Jesus. The following list of hyperlinks is provided to help those interested in reading these other postings. Clicking on any of the links below will transfer you to the posting of your choice: