The word itself sends a warm, tingly feeling up our spines. What joy it is to love and be loved! There’s even an entire day of the year dedicated to this all-consuming phenomenon. But love can also be one of life’s greatest lessons. Wouldn’t it be much easier if there were guidelines that showed what love really is, how it can be accepted and paid forward?
Well, we’re in luck, friends. The Bible covers it all, from loving God, to loving our families and our neighbors. The Grit and Grace Life team share their favorite verses on this special subject.
Love Is the Whole Point
I remember when I first starting living for Jesus. I had “been a Christian” for a while but it didn’t really affect my daily life until I came to college and began being discipled, surrounded by Christians who loved God and lived for him Monday through Saturday, too. My college pastor said a simple phrase that to this day, I still repeat to myself often. When I’m not sure what to say to a friend (or foe), or I’m confused about how to move forward with a decision, or if I’m unsure of the direction I should be taking…
If every action I take is motivated by a biblical love (Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 1 Corinthians 13:4-5), then I’m where God wants me. And I’m bringing him glory (which is my main goal in life.)
The Bible is full of ways we can honor God, and what he wants us to do while we’re here on Earth, but ultimately, the Bible is a love story. A story he’s invited us into, and to be a part of sharing with others. We’re loved, so we love him and his people.
And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13)
Julie Bender — Co-Host of This Grit and Grace Life
Read more from Julie here.
How to Love our Family of Faith
Families are messy. Nearly without exception, some members are delightful, encouraging. Others want to argue and judge often, determined to divide and all around make everyone a little crazy. It is no different in our family of faith. When we begin a relationship with Christ, we gain the honor of becoming children of God, members of a vast, diverse, cross-cultural, and cross-generational family. But as children of God, we also acquire siblings.
God has something to say about how we handle this family we may not have realized we joined, “Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8, NLT)
Every newly acquired brother and sister created in the image of God has personality traits, abilities, and a unique purpose to fulfill. We are also at different places in life with a vast array of life views and opinions. This fact alone can cause division, the very thing God despises (1 Corinthians 1:10). Instead of looking at our faith family in doubt and frustration, we are asked to love them, deeply love them. When we do, sins are covered. What would it look like if we did exactly that? Not only would we build unity, but we would help in covering sin, ours and theirs.
Darlene Brock — Co-founder and President
Read more from Darlene here.
Love for One and All
“One of them, an expert in religious law, tried to trap him with this question: “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:35-40
Whenever I read these verses, I’m always pleased with how well Jesus handled the situation placed before him. A Pharisee is trying to throw Jesus off, to force him into murky waters by asking him to choose which of God’s holy commandments is superior to the rest (um, how about all of them?!).
I can picture the Pharisee leaning back with a smirk on his face, waiting for Jesus to stumble. But without hesitation, Jesus replies that we are to love God with every thought that races through our minds; in every thing we say; and in every thing we do. And we’re not to stop there—we’re to treat everyone we come across with the same kindness and respect we have for ourselves.
I think the reason Jesus was able to supply an answer so easily was because he knew that if people loved God and others perfectly, obedience to the other commandments would simply follow suit. Nobody would murder if they loved others. They wouldn’t commit idolatry if God was their No. 1. But humanity isn’t perfect, and Jesus knew that. So he gave us the guidelines of loving God first, then our neighbor, knowing that if we strive for these, we can come pretty close to mirroring his own walk on earth.
We jump at that first commandment by attending church and praying fervently, but all too often, we forget that Jesus followed it up with one that was “equally important”: loving our neighbor. It’s easy to focus our attention on loving our spouse or our children, but how are we actively loving our neighbor?
Letting a stranger have that parking spot, or bringing a coworker a cup of coffee are simple ways to show love. Sometimes, just lending a listening ear is what somebody is desperately aching for. Refraining from gossip; taking an extra moment to think about what we’re about to say before we say it, lest we hurt someone and regret it later.
In the same way the spirit leads us to become more conscious of sinning against God, so we should work to become more conscious of how we’re treating others. Let’s not allow that Pharisee to have the last word. Pour out love to God and to your neighbor and watch all the ways it will be returned to you.
Tess Lopez — Content and Marketing Manager
Read more from Tess here.
Love Makes You Do Crazy Things
I have always loved this quote by Freud (yes, Freud!), “How bold one gets when one is when sure of being loved.” Lay aside any thoughts or feelings you hold about the man and think about the implications of this statement.
Growing up, my parents’ unconditional love gave me the courage to ask them for help with problems I was scared to talk about because they had proven to love me simply because I was me, and I was theirs. My husband’s loyal love allowed me to make life-altering decisions for our family because I was secure in knowing that no matter what changed, our relationship would remain. And God’s love for me… Well, that has caused me to do all kinds of crazy (and wonderful) things. Why? Because I am sure that he loves me; the Bible tells me so.
He created me with thought and care and loves me exactly the way I am.
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. (Psalm 139:13)
You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you. (Song of Solomon 4:7)
He gave up his life so that we could have a personal relationship.
Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. (1 John 3:16)
He committed to me forever and sealed my fate.
In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit Ephesians (1:13)
Ashley Johnson — Managing Editor
Read more from Ashley here.
Isn’t it true that we throw the word “love” around pretty loosely these days? I love ice cream, fall days, my family, and my friends. But the more love you give in this world, the more vulnerable you are to heartbreak, right? Ice cream melts, fall days turn to winter, and people aren’t perfect.
Not so with God’s love, though. It doesn’t ever falter, fail, or disappoint. It’s not conditional. It doesn’t have to be earned. And it can’t possibly be lost. This is revealed time and time again in the Bible and can honestly be hard to wrap your mind around. But it is. God is love, and God loves you. And it’s through actions of His love (Jesus on the cross) that we can know Him, rely on Him, and be called His.
Get this: You can never be too scared, too fearful, too angry, too hurt, too broken, too anxious, too depressed, too indebted, too mistaken, too fallen, or too wrong to lose God’s love. Your fear, pain, mistakes, family history, past, present, scars, sin, and brokenness are all welcome in the love of God.
Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations. (Deuteronomy 7:9)
Bethany Gilliland — Social Media Manager
Read more from Bethany here.
I used to think that I could outrun God’s love. I don’t know if it was a sign of the doctrine of the times or if it was the particular message my heart embraced, but I was in a desperate cycle of salvation for most of my teen years well into early adulthood.
I would get “saved.”
Then sin. (Because, duh, I’m human.)
Then get “saved” again.
I had this image in my head of a tiny little Jesus coming into my heart with a broom and sweeping away all of the bad stuff every time I messed up. (I’ve clearly always had an overactive imagination.) The problem was, I kept messing up. And I began to think his broom must have been mighty threadbare with all of that sweeping. So, at some point, I stopped asking. I mean, Jesus probably needed a break from all of that sinning I was doing to lose my salvation on the daily, right?
But I know now that God’s love doesn’t stop when you mess up. It doesn’t come in, clean you up, and then walk away once you make another mess. It’s not a one and done. It’s not asking for perfection. God knows us too well for that. If we could be perfect, his grace wouldn’t be necessary.
God’s love is unshakable. Unshakable. You think he’s shocked by what you’ve done? He’s not. Think he’s stopped loving you because of it? He hasn’t. Even if the mountains are shaking because you started it yourself, he’s still here. That’s how his love and grace work.
You are never too far gone for God’s unshakable love. It’s here, in the form of a man named Jesus who laid it all on the line. He’s not asking you to be perfect and never curse in the carpool line or get angry or feel any of the bad things, he’s asking you to believe in him enough to trust that he paid for it all. All of it.
Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken. (Isaiah 54:10)
Meaghan Dawson — Contributing Writer
Read more from Meaghan here.
Here are some more verses on love:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. (Mark 12:30)
Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. (Proverbs 3:3-4)
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. (1 Corinthians 13:1)
The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. (Psalm 103:8)
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. (1 John 4:16)
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. (2 Peter 1:5-7)
Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. (Psalm 63:3-4)
But you, O Lord, are a God of compassion and mercy, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. (Psalm 86:15)
For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs. (Zephaniah 3:17)
There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15:13)
But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. (Romans 5:8)
Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1 John 4:8)
You’ll love this podcast episode from This Grit and Grace Life: How to Handle Real-Life Struggles That Challenge Your Faith – 112!