Characteristics Of Christian Love

W. Terry Varner
September 27, 2015

An action that would help change lives and the world is the practice of Christian love. The Greek language has four different words for the English word love. However, the New Testament, written under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, uses only three of the four words for love. The Bible teaches that love is the greatest of all virtues (cf. 1 Cor. 13:13). Barclay writes, “The basis of every conceivable right relationship in heaven and earth is love. It is on love that all relationships, both human and divine, are founded” (More New Testament Words 1). This being so consider the following thoughts:

Christian Love Is Described as Sincere. The Bible states “Let love be without dissimulation [hypocrisy]” (Rom. 12:9). The Christian is expected by God “to prove the sincerity” of his love (2 Cor. 8:8). If love is to be without hypocrisy, then the Christian’s practice of love must never have ulterior motives. If the Christian’s love functions from ulterior motives, then love cloaks our inner motive of bitterness. Peter reminds us “to love one another with a pure heart fervently” (1 Peter 1:22). Therefore, we need to ask ourselves, “is our love of God sincere? Is our love for one another sincere?”

Christian Love Is Described as Innocent. When Christians love one another, they are to do so with and in all innocence; i.e. with pure love. Paul teaches us that “love works no ill to his neighbor” (Rom. 13:10). In some way and we are not informed how and what, Paul writes that “Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil” (2 Tim. 4:14). Whatever friendship and brotherly relationship they sustained to one another, if they had such a relationship, it ended when Alexander did Paul much mischief or evil. Sometimes we practice Christian love by trying to control others. The question becomes: “Do I treat [love] others wherein I am trying to control them? Am I troubled when they go places and do things that are innocent and that I would not do without my permission or consent? Is my love a demonstration of innocence or an attempt to control others?”

Christian Love Is Described as Controlling Our Liberty in Christ. The Bible speaks of the liberty that Christians possess in Christ (cf. Gal. 5:1); that is, the Christian has the liberty to do anything that is not sinful. At the same time, the Christian is not and must not use his liberty in Christ to sin. “For, brethren, you have been called to liberty; only use not liberty for occasion to the flesh [sin], but by love serve one another” (Gal. 5:13, emp. added). Peter describes the Christian’s liberty, “As free, and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as servants of God” (1 Peter 2:16). We must always allow our liberty to be controlled by our Christian love for others.

Christian Love Is Liberal or Generous. Jesus loved us liberally by giving Himself for our sins. Our love is to imitate Jesus. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have love you, that you also love one another” (John 13:34). Our love ought to be the result of our reflection of God’s love that we enjoy. “Behold, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another” (1 John 4:11). Are you expressing your love to God and to others generously or liberally?