What is the test of love? Love is a much overused word. I hear people use “love” to talk about food, cars, a TV show, the weather, a singer or actor, “making love,” or a special vacation spot. I think we have diluted the word love to the point that we don’t give much thought to its true meaning. We often use the word to express a good feeling about and our like for or admiration for something or someone. Many confuse infatuation with the idea of love.
So, what is the test of love? Let’s start answering this question by eliminating something love is not. You may disagree with this, but love is not a feeling you have about something or someone. There are times my wife and I don’t like each other but that doesn’t cancel the love and commitment that has kept us together for over fifty years. Love doesn’t require that we agree with each other’s ideas or political views. I may not like your political views but Jesus requires me to love you. I may not have positive feelings about you and your ideas but I still love you. Get the idea? Loving someone can be pretty challenging, can’t it?
So, what is the meaning of love? The New Testament’s use of “love” is limited to love for God and people. For example, “For God so loved the world…(John 3:16).” 1 John 4:7 says, “Let us love one another, for love is from God: and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.” This kind of commitment is reserved for God and people. We are told not to attach this commitment to anything else, ” Do not love the world or the things of the world. (1 John 2:15)”
Do you love Jesus? Let’s go a little deeper and check it out. Take a look at what Jesus says about the test of our love for God. “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:39). Jesus is telling us the real proof that we love God is how we treat others. Something is drastically wrong if we say we love God and do not love people. John, one of Jesus’ disciples, puts the issue this way: “We love because he first loved us. If someone says ‘I love God’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also” (1 John 4:19–21).
Love, seeking what is in the long-term best interest for another, is what makes us most like God. Love motivates God to save us. Love acted on our behalf in the incarnation, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus: “For God so loved the world…” Love works in the best interest of the beloved.
When the apostle John wrote the words above in 1 John, he was likely reflecting on an experience where Jesus spoke directly to him and the other disciples about the vital connection between loving God and our treatment of others. With the disciples gathered around the table on the night before his crucifixion Jesus looks at each of them and says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this, all men will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another” (John 13:34–35).
Do you say you love Jesus and want to follow him? He welcomes you and me with open arms and tells us, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15).
My books Marriage is What You Make It and Parenting With a Purpose offer some good ideas about how to demonstrate your love for those who are most important in your life. https://www.cosdavis.com/