Open Your Bible
Deuteronomy 4:31-38, 1 Corinthians 13:1-13, Galatians 5:6, Galatians 5:13-14, 1 John 4:7-21
BY Jen Yokel
Of all the aspects of the fruit of the Spirit, love feels like the most universal and, somehow, the most elusive. If you’ve ever tried to explain what it’s like, you know what I mean. Love can feel like analyzing every word of every conversation between meeting someone and confessing your feelings. It can feel like the comfortable silence of deep friendship. It can feel like filling your Instagram feed with pictures of a new baby, or late-night scrolling through photographic memories of a faraway friend. We write songs about it, cry while watching movies that try to portray it, maybe even try to deny it, declaring it a lie when our hearts are broken.
But Scripture tells us that the true definition of love is found in who God is. In fact, it’s one of the surest things we can know about God, a virtue greater than even faith and hope (1Corinthians 13:13). Scripture tells us “God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him” (1John 4:16).
The famous “love chapter” of 1 Corinthians 13 outlines many attributes of this love: patience, kindness, not insisting on its own way, rejoicing in truth, hoping and enduring everything. Enduring wars and disease and hatred. Outlasting empires and buildings and movements. In this litany of love’s attributes, I see the face of God. I hear God’s invitation to make ourselves at home in this love and let it transform us through the indwelling Holy Spirit.
This sort of love is nonsensical, if you think about it. It isn’t a vague, obligatory love for people who are like you, and it goes beyond the bonds of family, friends, or spouse. This love extends the circle wider and wider, transcending rational thought about who is worthy of love; it persists no matter what and in any circumstance, without condition.
The apostle Paul said, “The whole law is fulfilled in one statement: Love your neighbor as yourself” (Galatians 5:14). What could that look like today, as we imitate Christ to seek the welfare of our neighbors? When we make ourselves at home in God’s transformative love, we are changed. We are empowered to join God in repairing the world, to press on and show our neighbors what we value and to whom we belong.
“You were called to be free, brothers and sisters; only don’t use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love” (Galatians 5:13). May it be so in us, the Holy Spirit growing love in our hearts for the flourishing of our families, our neighbors, and all of creation.