The Power of True Christian Love
Song of Solomon 8:6-7
If love is as strong as death, then in Christ, love is more powerful than death.
“Set me as a seal on your heart, as a seal on your arm. For love is as strong as death; ardent love is as unrelenting as Sheol. Love’s flames are fiery flames — the fiercest of all. Mighty waters cannot extinguish love; rivers cannot sweep it away. If a man were to give all his wealth for love, it would be utterly scorned.” (Song of Solomon 8:6–7, HCSB)
True Christian love is powerful because of the resurrection of Jesus over the power of death and the grave. Here in this passage, we see five traits that apply to true Christian love. While these five traits apply to the love of a Christian man and a Christian woman in marriage, I also believe that these five traits are universal. They are found in the love of Jesus Christ.
5 TRAITS OF THE POWER OF TRUE CHRISTIAN LOVE1
1. True Christian love is possessive. (Song of Solomon 8:6a)
“Set me as a seal on your heart, as a seal on your arm…” (Song of Solomon 8:6, CSB)
In biblical times a seal was often a ring worn on the finger. Hot wax was placed on a document and then the seal on the ring was stamped on the wax. It showed everyone who was the owner of the document.
Interestingly, the woman did not ask for a ring to be put on her husband’s arm or finger. Instead, she asked him to take her herself into his very heart, and to make her the seal of his love.
In other words, she said, “I am giving myself to you as a sign of my love for you. I will be your possession.”
And isn’t that what happens in true love. True love always gives oneself away so as to be possessed by the other person.
2 True Christian love is permanent. (Song of Solomon 8:6b)
“…For love is as strong as death; jealousy is as unrelenting as Sheol…” (Song of Solomon 8:6, CSB)
The word jealousy can also mean “passion.” And what is being said is that true love lasts until death. Passion for her lover will last until the grave. If love is as strong as death, then in Christ, love is stronger than death.
3. True Christian love is powerful. (Song of Solomon 8:6b)
“…Love’s flames are fiery flames— an almighty flame!” (Song of Solomon 8:6, CSB)
Romantic love between two people is powerful. Yet, the eternal love between Christ and His children is much more powerful. The picture here of true Christian love is the power of a flame. The implication is that I can get through anything if I have Christ.
What is the relationship between Christian love and death?
While romantic love is strong, this kind of love ends at death. It is the reason why we say “until death do us part.” Marriage is something for a man and a woman to enter while they live here on Earth.
“For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage but are like angels in heaven.” (Matthew 22:30, HCSB)
True Christian love, therefore, is more powerful than romantic love.
But further, there is an acknowledgment in this passage that true love comes from the LORD. It originates with God. It is described as “the very flame of the LORD.”
“The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:8, CSB)
4. True Christian love is persevering (Song of Solomon 8:7a)
“A huge torrent cannot extinguish love; rivers cannot sweep it away…” (Song of Solomon 8:7, CSB)
The Bible sometimes speaks of water as a threat. One thinks of Noah’s Flood, Moses’ crossing of the Red Sea, and Joshua’s crossing of the Jordan River.
This woman said that true love is so persevering that nothing can crush it. No matter how threatening circumstances around her may seem, there is nothing that can defeat true love. True love perseveres regardless of the circumstances.
Paul says that it is stronger than any number of powerful agents in life.
5. True Christian Love is precious (Song of Solomon 8:7b)
“…If a man were to give all his wealth for love, it would be utterly scorned.” (Song of Solomon 8:7, CSB)Sex can be bought. But true love can never be bought. True love is precious, it is more costly than anything we own, and it is always given.
You have seen those MasterCard advertisements on TV that list the price of a number of different items, and then close with an item that is “Priceless.”
The greatest picture of true love is that of Jesus for his bride, the Church. In every possible and perfect way, Jesus’ love for his own is possessive, permanent, powerful, persevering, and precious.
Jesus sets believers as a seal upon his own heart, indicating that we are his possession.
Jesus showed that his love is indeed strong as death in that he died for his own. That showed the permanence of his love.
Jesus’ love for believers is powerful. Indeed, it is the very flame of the LORD.
Jesus’ love is persevering. Nothing in all creation can separate believers from the love of God that is in Christ.
And Jesus love for his own is precious. We cannot buy his love. Instead, Jesus gives His love to His own.
And as each of you grows closer to Jesus, you will discover that he will, by his amazing grace, enable your love for each other to be possessive, permanent, powerful, persevering, and precious.
For true Christian love derives its source from God. He loves as part of His nature. He loved the world and His love provided a way to overcome death.
““For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, HCSB)
Jesus understood that God loved the world and realized that His sacrifice on the cross would be the vehicle which helps people overcome death. Jesus died and was raised from the dead. He proved by this resurrection that Christian love is stronger than death.
“This is how we have come to know love: He laid down His life for us. We should also lay down our lives for our brothers.” (1 John 3:16, HCSB)
John describes the fact that Christians will be willing to sacrifice their lives because their allegiance to Christ is stronger than the consequences of not loving the Antichrist.
“They conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they did not love their lives in the face of death.” (Revelation 12:11, HCSB)
This Christian love compels a person to be willing to sacrifice life for death for the sake of love for another person. We can do this because of the love of Christ in us.
“For I am persuaded that not even death or life, angels or rulers, things present or things to come, hostile powers, height or depth, or any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!” (Romans 8:38–39, HCSB)
The resurrection teaches that the power of true Christian love is available to everyone who trusts Jesus. As the song “In Christ Alone” by Stuart Townsend and Keith Getty says, the power of Christ, which comes from the love of God, is stronger than death.2
1 Freddy Fritz, “The Characteristics of True Love,” 26 June 2008, Internet, https://www.sermoncentral.com/sermons/the-characteristics-of-true-love-freddy-fritz-sermon-on-weddings-117800?, accessed on 30 March 2018.
2 Jim Erwin, “Christian Love Is Stronger Than Death,” 1 August 2008, Internet, Patheos, http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jimerwin/2013/08/01/christian-love-is-stronger-than-death/, accessed on 30 March 2018.