Studying Human Hearts: Love

A Scripture study from Caring, part two of four.

Read part one.

In 1 John 4:7-10, John explains that not only is God the source and standard of love, he is love. Love originates with God, and he is consistent and perfect in expressing love and supplying to us the love we are to show others. Through the cross of Christ, we see God’s passionate pursuit of us—his love on display.

Behind the scenes

Read what Scripture says in 1 John 4:7-10: Dear 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 love. This is how God showed his alive among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

Beyond the surface

Reread these verses several times. When we understand more and more how the depth of Jesus’ love for us, we are freed to love others in that sacrificial love. So, based on these verses, what is the biblical meaning of love? Read through the verses about love below for additional guidance.

  • 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 — 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. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
  • John 3:16 — For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
  • Luke 10:26-37 — “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Between the lines

God showed his love for us by sending his son to be the sacrifice for our sins.

  • What insight does this give us into how God expects us to show love to others?
  • What happens to our efforts to love each other if those efforts aren’t connected to Jesus’ love for us?
  • How willing are you to make loving sacrifices in your relationships with others right now? What does your willingness to do so show about the way you see and define love?
  • Has God’s love for you transformed the way you see other people?
  • When we fail to love others, what does that say about our relationship with God?

Closing thoughts

Do you find yourself more loving or more critical and judgmental of others right now? If the latter, how are you going to reconnect with the love of God in Christ this week? Try reading through a story of love—such as the woman anointing the feet of Jesus, or Ruth and Boaz. As you do, ask yourself: What is love? Is the world’s meaning of love the same as biblical love? What was the expression of love shown in the example? What was the basis for this display of love? What can I learn and apply to my life from this?

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Jonnette Mulch, Major

Major Jonnette Mulch is the Assistant Program Secretary for Corps Ministries in The Salvation Army Western Territory.