This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear Friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another (I John 4:10,11)
We are contemplating the truth of love. Love is key. All else falls silently to the floor if love is not the chief motivating component that drives all of life. In counseling, such love is exhibited in both compassionate discipleship as well as Godly rebuke. (Titus 2:15; 2 Timothy 4:2; I Corinthians 13:4-8; John 15:12).
In today’s culture, many Christians believe the Bible teaches that the starting point for our loving others is based on first loving ourselves–but that is not what God says. He tells us that since He first loved us, we ought to love one another. In a class on I John, Professor Elliott Greene teaches that John’s book is about “life grammar,” i.e.,” the same love of which we are objects is the love of which we must become subjects.” This ability to love others comes from first being the objects of God’s love (which He “lavishly . . . poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit” I Jn. 3:1; Rms. 5:5) to becoming the “subjects” of God’s love: those now called to pour love lavishly into others. Dr. Toussaint teaches us another grammar lesson in I Cor. 8:1: “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.” He tells us “the verbs ‘puffs up’ and ‘builds up’ do not have direct objects: Love builds up–whom? Others, because it’s others-centered. Knowledge puffs up–whom? Self, because it’s self-centered. . . . Knowledge . . . sucks you into its vortex and you become more and more self-centered. Conversely, love is wholly concerned with others.” (1986, p. 6).
Probably nothing “. . . is more difficult to learn than love” because it goes so against our grain (Miller, 2001). Our feelings protest, “How do you love someone when you get no love in return–only withdrawal or ingratitude? How do you love without being trapped or used by the other person? How do you love when you have your own problems? When do you take care of yourself? How do you love with both compassion and honesty? [Especially since] most of us have lacked good models for love? . . . The person of Jesus is a plumb line to which we may align our lives” (2001, p. 20). To conjugate love into a verb with the correct direct objects, we need first to be aware God’s incredible love lives in us (if we belong to Him) and He gives us the ability to share His love: “Incarnation is to embody in the flesh. People need to see the gospel lived out in us . . . “ (Petersen, 1991, p. 167). Incarnating Christ is to live a life of love.
Jesus didn’t ask Peter how much he knew, but how much he loved Him, since “Knowledge doesn’t bring victory; love does. Knowledge doesn’t bring power; love does. . . .God uses love in a believer’s life. Spiritual victory does not come from knowledge, it comes from love.” Knowledge is “a horrible master” but “a glorious servant.” As Paul tells us in I Cor. 13:2, “Even if I have knowledge to understand all mysteries and all knowledge and do not love, I am nothing” (Toussaint, 1986, p.7). We may not dismiss knowledge, because not only are we commanded to love, we are commanded to “be diligent to present [ourselves] approved to God” by “rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Ti. 2:15). However, “truth and love must work together if there is to be growth.