2 Peter 1:7: What Is Love?

Steven Haguewood

Second Peter 1:5-7 is a section of scripture often referred to as "The Christian Graces." In it the reader learns just what type of character Christians ought to possess. This list culminates in the word love. Love is an important word, one without which the Christian cannot please God. Without love Paul says no one can do anything right (1 Corinthians 13). Love is to be the motivation behind all that the Christian does or says. So what is it?

Many people confuse it with kindness. Peter tells us to add love to our brotherly kindness so the two must not be the same thing, at least not exactly the same. Love will include kindness. One is not intentionally hurtful or rude to the object of his love. Kindness will be part of love. However, there must be more to love than just being kind, or it would not need to be added to the graces after brotherly kindness.

Love is deeper than just kindness. Love becomes the motivation for that kindness. Love drives Christians in whatever they do if it is to please God (1 Corinthians 13:1-3). Love does what is kind when possible, but love always does what is right. Matthew 7:7-12 teaches us that God does what is right for us because He loves us. He will always do the right thing, even if it is not what is asked specifically. Love does the right thing no matter the cost to the lover or the loved (John 3:16).

Love can be tough. God loved the Pharisees and Scribes even though He did not love what they were doing. His love prompted Matthew 23 and the eight woes to the Scribes and Pharisees whom He called hypocrites. Eight times He blasted them for their abuse, neglect, and improper practice of His word. Jesus said the tough things because He loved them and wanted them to do the right things. These eight woes do not seem kind, but, in reality, they were the pinnacle of kindness. The Scribes and Pharisees would be punished for what they were doing, and Jesus wanted to help them avoid destruction. His love caused Him to denounce their practices. This is love.

This is the attitude one must take with him to Matthew 23:12-18. Jesus' desire is for everyone to come to Him. When one is seen leaving the faith that saves him, those who notice must have the love required to act on his behalf and bring him back to Christ. Some refer to this as "church discipline" or "withdrawing." When the proper love is present it does not start out as a conscious choice: "I'm going to start the withdrawal process on that guy." Instead, a loving brother or sister attempts to win a sinner back from Satan because of the love he or she has for him. All is done in an effort to bring that soul back to the Lord, not to "kick someone out of the church." It is tough to do at times, but it is necessary because love demands it. No true Christian wants to see anyone lost because you cannot have God's love if you are “OK” with anyone going to hell (1 John 4:20).

Love is not a “mushy-gushy,” “ooey-gooey” feeling that gives you goose bumps. Love is genuine concern for someone that shows up in your life as you work to make his or her life better. You will sacrifice as Jesus did; you will be kind as life allows; and you will do the difficult things as love demands. Love must be a verb in your life, an action that you take on behalf of others as you do whatever you can and must to help them get to heaven. -1301 West Virginia Ave., Parkersburg, WV 26104. steven@northendchurch.com

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