Don The Armour

November 6, 2023

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

1 John 4:7-12 (ESV)


Disclaimer - This post is going to be a bit different as I’m going to discuss ideas that I’m still working out. If you think I’m wrong, feel free to drop a comment or send me an email. I would love to hear other perspectives.

I’ve been meditating on a simple question for quite some time now:

What is love?

I have often heard it said that “love is a choice” or “love is an act of the will.” I have even said this myself because I recognized that love is not the feeling of butterflies and hormones that Hollywood would have us believe it is. However, I was questioning if this statement that “love is a choice” is entirely accurate or if it’s more complicated than that. After searching the scriptures, I came to a different answer. Here is my best attempt at a definition:

Love is separate people dying to themselves to become one with each other.

As John states in the verse above, God is love, and this definition of love is revealed in his very nature because he is three separate entities, but still one. And as Jesus is one with the Father, he invites us to be one with him and each other in love. The scripture also tells us to model this in marriage by loving our spouse and becoming one flesh with them, as Christ with the church (Eph. 5:25-33).

When you love someone and become one with them, you share in each other’s suffering and joy. Since God loves us, he sent his Son here to suffer as we do. He faced shame, humiliation, pain, temptation, and death. When we unite with Jesus in love, we share eternal life and joy with him. “And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” (Col. 3:14) We are justified before God because we are bound with his Son in love.

But in this definition, is love a choice? Is becoming one flesh with another person something we simply choose to do?

I don’t believe natural man is capable of choosing to love God; our depraved, unregenerate state prevents us from loving him. As the quoted verse says, we didn’t love God, but he loved us. So it is only his grace that gives us faith and changes our hearts so that we can love Jesus and have salvation. And as John states in the verse above, if you don’t know God, you don’t know love. So it seems to me that since our ability to love God only comes from his grace, and we can’t know love without knowing God, then our ability to love anyone is a product of grace.

I do think there is still some room for choice when it comes to our love for others; however, I think the broader application of this is that when we struggle to love, it’s not because we aren’t “choosing enough,” but it’s because our love for God is suffering. Rather than looking at ourselves to fix this, we need to look to God. He is the fountain from which all love flows.