What is it to love like Jesus loves?

This short article is a consideration of some of the features of the love of the Lord Jesus.

Truthful love, John 18. 37; 1 Cor. 13. 6 

Love without truth is deceitful and hurtful. We might tell a person to ‘have a nice trip’ without revealing the dangerous truth that a bridge is out. This is friendly but is not caring love. The Lord Jesus Christ never sacrificed truth on the altar of love but sacrificed Himself in love for the truth of God’s judgement. He came ‘to bear witness unto the truth’ – and was crucified for it. Paul wrote, ‘[love] … rejoices in the truth’.

Legal love, Hos. 12. 6 ESV; Eph. 5. 2; Rom. 3. 26

Love without justice destroys value. Hosea said, ‘hold fast to love and justice’. To forgive a rapist without prosecution might be merciful to him but destroys the soul of the victim – for no value of their worth is shown if judgement’s legal price is not paid. Sin offends God and merits death. For God to forgive the sinner, the legal justice of death had to be executed upon the Lord Jesus. That is why ‘Christ … loved us, and hath given himself for us … a sacrifice to God’. That is the only basis whereby He (God) ‘might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus’. Legal love values God – and man.

Abhorring love, Ps. 97. 10; Rev. 2. 15

In our world, evil exists and is harmful and destructive and does not glorify a holy God. Is it holy and good to love evil? If a child was enjoying playing with a poisonous snake, would it be love not to disrupt the child’s joy? ‘Ye that love the Lord, hate evil’. We are told to ‘Abhor that which is evil’. The Lord Jesus said, ‘The doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate’. Love abhors evil because love loves good.

Timed love, 2 Cor. 2. 6-8; Eccles. 3. 8

To value righteousness, repentance comes before granting forgiveness. Christ’s loving gospel actively forgives no one until they repent of sin. When one is put out of church fellowship for open sin, it is only after this punishment one is to ‘forgive him, and … confirm your love toward him’. Like when trying to stop a moving car in a potentially dangerous situation, timing is crucial. As Solomon reminds us, ‘A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace’.

Judging love, Heb. 12. 6; Phil. 1. 9

Because we love our babies, we make a daily judgement as to what is best for them, from food for their physical development to toys for their mental development. Not making judgements and letting them do what they want is not caring. Love without judgement is reckless folly. The Lord loves His children and so makes judgements for us. And He judges (chastens) us so that we learn, ‘whom the Lord loveth, he chasteneth’. He tells us, ‘that your love may abound yet more … in knowledge and in all judgment’.

Obedient love, John 14. 15, 31

Many say that they love the Lord, perhaps in prayer or song. Is it true love if a child tells his parents he loves them but then never obeys them? The Lord Jesus proved His love to His Father by obeying His will to the extent of the cross, ‘that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do’. Love sacrifices self. The Lord said, ‘If ye love me, keep my commandments’. Love without obedience is like a tree without fruit.

Meritless love, Eph. 2. 4, 8, 9; Rom. 5. 6-10

Most people love the loveable. Their ‘goodness’ merits our love, making it easy for us to love them. But how many love the undeserving or their enemies? A soldier might die for a good friend but not for the enemy who is trying to hurt or kill him. God’s love was expressed in the giving of His only beloved Son as a perfect sin offering – for us ungodly sinners, His enemies. Saving love is a demonstration of grace. It requires no merit, ‘his great love … for by grace are ye saved through faith … not of works’.

May this simple meditation deepen our appreciation of the love of the Lord for each one of us.


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