Very simply, “…God is love…” [1 John 4:16 KJV]. That’s it! Love is defined in just three little words, with no qualifiers. Now that does not sound very romantic does it? It certainly doesn’t sound very Hollywoodish. But there you have it in three simple words: God is love. The implications are profound. Love is the basis and driving force for ALL interpersonal relationships, including man-woman, parent-child, boss-employee, teacher-student, friend-friend, and neighbor-neighbor. The standout differences that distinctively set apart the marriage relationship include its intensity, depth, level of intimacy, and permanence. However, all relationships are built on love. Relationships grow to the extent that love grows; relationships weaken or terminate to the extent that love weakens. Love is so important to individuals, interpersonal relationships, and ultimately to cultures that a closer look is inescapable.
Consider Step 2 of the circle, the Principle of Love. Since all love originates from God, He is the best and only totally reliable source of wisdom regarding the practice of love. Although most people tend to focus on the back end of the best known and loved verse in the Bible, to understand the principle of love it is necessary to zoom in on the front end. “For God SO loved…that He GAVE…” [John 3:16 KJV] God loved us and all of His creation to such a great extent that He gave. What did He give? He gave that which He valued more than anything else “…His only begotten Son,” Jesus Christ who died on a brutal Roman cross to pay the penalty for the sins of all mankind. Since Scripture gives evidence that God is three persons in one, often called the Trinity, (God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit) He effectively volunteered to give Himself as the ultimate expression of love.
Clearly, without giving there can be no love. Love and all relationships grow to the extent that there is regular giving. Love and relationships weaken or terminate when giving slows or stops. The marriage relationship has one distinct difference. It is intended and decreed by God to be permanent regardless of internal circumstances. It can be a loving marriage or a loveless marriage as the husband and wife choose, but either way it is permanent. “Therefore, what God has joined together, let man not separate.” [Mark. 10:9 NIV] Look for much more about the marriage concept in upcoming blogs. Love is always dynamic; it is never static. It cannot stand still; it will either grow or weaken as time passes.
Since God is love, what does He have to say about the importance of love? 1 Corinthians 13:2 [NIV] clearly underscores the Importance of Love in my life and yours. “…if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am NOTHING.” (zero, zilch, nada) I learned long ago that zero is a very small number. The brightness of God is shining inescapably on the view that if my life and yours are not clearly characterized by love, as evidenced by continuous giving, we are wasting the awesome and precious gift of life that God has given us.
Since love is critically important to a rich life experience, it should be no surprise that God gives it the highest of all priorities. Step 4 of God’s Circle of Love cites 1 Corinthians 13:13 [NIV], “…these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” Whoa! How can love be the greatest? Does not faith “unlock the door” to heaven, our preferred eternal destiny? Isn’t eternity more important than the fleeting temporary life here and now? Of course it is! However, Scripture says that love is greater than faith or hope simply because “God is love,” thus closing God’s Circle of Love. Love drives all relationships. As a practical matter, a love-driven life reduces stress thus enriching all of life’s experiences.