The Bible speaks about the love of God, but also about human love, so here’s what Scripture says about love and relationships.
The Love of a Spouse
Jacob and Rachel is one of the greatest love stories in the Bible. In fact, Jacob was so consumed by Rachel, that “Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her” (Gen 29:20). Much earlier, after Isaac’s mother died, “Isaac brought [Rebekah] into the tent of Sarah his mother and took Rebekah, and she became his wife, and he loved her. So Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death” (Gen 24:67). Those who love us can comfort us like no others, which is why we believe that “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up” (Eccl 4:9-10), and “if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken” (Eccl 4:11-12). Therefore, the admonition is, “Above all things “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Eph 5:25), so husbands, “ let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband” (Eph 5:33). When a woman feels loved, she feels respected; when a man feels respected, he feels love.
The Love of a Friend
A friend’s love is like no other. In many cases, our friends can be closer to us than our blood brothers or sisters. We might be able talk to them and tell them things we wouldn’t tell anyone else. Jesus said one way that friends display their love is to lay down their lives for them. Laying down their lives may not mean giving dying for our friends, but we give them our time, and in this life, that’s a precious commodity. Jesus reminds us, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Jesus Himself displayed the greatest of love by laying down his life for us, so we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers and sisters in this life (1 John 3:16). Proverbs 17:17 states that “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity,” meaning friends stick with you, through good times and bad, meaning, they stay with their friends and love them “at all times,” good and bad, but also God has sovereignly placed friends in our lives for just such a purpose. David saw his share of bad times, and yet Jonathan’s friendship helped him endure, as David says, “I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; You have been very pleasant to me. Your love to me was more wonderful than the love of women” (2 Sam 1:26). Prior to this, “Jonathan made David swear again by his love for him, for he loved him as he loved his own soul” (1 Sam 20:17), so this was one of the greatest friendships in the Bible.
The Love of Brothers and Sisters
We are to love one another, including our brothers and sisters. The author of Hebrews states “Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares” (Heb 13:1-2). The Apostle Peter admonished us to “have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind” (1 Pet 3:8), so we ought to “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor” (Rom 12:10). Otherwise, “If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen” (1 John 4:20). Believers have no excuse not to love their brothers and sisters in Christ. Paul told the church at Thessalonica, “Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more” (1 Thess 4:9-10). Since we are all still very much human, we’re going to irritate people, however, “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cor 13:7), so “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph 4:32).
The Love of God
Want a quick glance at the love of God? The Apostle John wrote that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). The sinless Lamb of God is the good shepherd who “lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11). One reason why the love of God seems so radical to the world is that “one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:7-8). That godly love should compel us to “be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Eph 5:1-2). The very reason Jesus came was “not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). God loved us first; we who were wicked, ungodly enemies of His (Rom 5:6-10), so Jesus commands us to “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you” (Luke 6:27-28).
One of the most powerful ways we can attract people to God is by loving others. Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35). This kind of love generally “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cor 13:7). If we love people on a consistent basis, then “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death” (1 John 3:14). Then, we can have confidence we’re a child of God, for every child of God keeps “loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Pet 4:8).
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is a writer at Christian Quotes and also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.