As St. Valentine's Day is celebrated around the world, it is fitting to remember God's agape love toward us. The central theme of the Bible is God's love in procuring redemption to restore a broken world to Himself.
1. God is love. 1 John 4:8b
This short statement sums up the essence of God's being. He is love. He loves unconditionally and all that He does is motivated by love. This attribute, however, can often be misunderstood when separated from God's holiness. Many reason that if God is love, then He will never show His wrath. Because God's love is intrinsically connected to His holiness, He cannot tolerate sin and must punish it. This is why He sent His Son.
2. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16
The greatest demonstration of God's love is the giving of His only Son. The four Gospels record the events of His miraculous birth, life and death, which was the ultimate sacrifice for the sin of mankind. Had God not so loved the world with infinite, boundless, eternal, immeasurable, inexhaustible, unchangeable, perpetual Love, as C.H. Spurgeon wrote, we would have remained separated from Him for all eternity.
3. ... the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. Galatians 2:20b
This is the greatest display of sacrificial love in human history. Christ willingly laid down His life as a sacrifice for sin. When He said, 'It is finished' on the cross, the penalty for sin was paid and God's righteousness was satisfied forever. The good news of the Gospel is that we can receive salvation through faith in Christ and His atonement.
4. Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up. 1 Corinthians 13:4
The most famous definition of God's agape love in the Bible is contained in 1 Corinthians 13, The Hymn of Love. It has often been said that the word love could be replaced by God because He is love in essence, as we have already mentioned above.
Verse 4 tells us that love is patient and kind. It is not envious, boastful or arrogant. The definition continues in verses 5-8a:
Love ... does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails ...
Christ personified love while on the earth and lived out these principles perfectly for all to see. As His followers, we too are expected to aim for this level of excellence.
Paul states love's supremacy in the concluding words of this chapter:
And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
5. ... to know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge ... Ephesians 3:19
Paul's prayer for the Ephesian believers was for them to understand the breadth and length and height and depth (v.18) of Christ's love and to know or experience it. This love, which surpasses understanding, is poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). It is a love unlike any other and one which we may experience increasingly as we grow in our Christian walk.
As we consider God's love today and all its other forms, may we embrace the Giver of true love with grateful hearts.