By Chaplain (Col) Stephen W. Leonard, USA, Ret.

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our LORD.” Romans 8:38-39

Love is a big part of life, don’t you think? You cannot do without it. It is in your basic psyche. You as a human being cannot live without love. It is an essential building block of what is human. If you are indeed human, your life demands it. The less you have love, the less you receive it, the less you are human. Why is this? 

Simply because you are created in God’s image, as Genesis 1:27 tells you in no uncertain terms, this is true no matter what kind of a person you are. Whatever God’s image is, love must be in you for you to be a human being. 

When you ask what the definition of love is, you have an immediate definition in Scripture. 1 John 4:16 says quite clearly, “God is love!” If God is love as part of his very essence, the image of God contains, among many of His other attributes, love. If you are created in His image, your image will also contain love. 

But when Scripture tells you this, “Do not love the world, neither the things that are in the world,” it infers you can love this world while not loving the one who created you. For it goes on to say, “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” The Scripture defines “the world” as “the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes, and pride of life.

How does this define “the world?” If you are an observer of yourself and of other fellow humans, you know very well what the Bible is saying. Your fallen nature is exactly as the King James Version describes you in this verse. “Loving the world” in “the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes, and the pride” with which you manifest pride in our fallen natures.

Love, then, can apparently go either direction. A love for the world in the sense of lusting after the fallen things of the world, which are a very antithesis of God, that is, they are the things of Satan; or, in contrast, love for God and the rightness of God’s true nature. 

Love is in us, and we can love the things of the world and of God’s enemy, or we can love God and His will for our lives. One is a love for God and our neighbor, or it is love manifested in lust for the flesh, for a fallen world, and for the Devil. You may not think so, but God says our nature shows it. 

We think of love primarily in human relationships, don’t we? But God tells us the greatest commandment is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” And, only then, the second is like unto it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

We see a “love” mostly between fellow humans, but unless we have love in our whole being for God, we will never love others as we ought. The first must precede the second. 

To have healthy love in our hearts, which is to be fully human, we should love to obey God’s instruction to us. It is, after all, never onerous, but is an instruction He always gives to us in His love. Loving obedience returned to Him always propels love to flourish in your heart, literally pouring abundantly into a multitude of other people’s lives. In other words, your cup will be continually overflowing with love. I actually know some people who are just like that.


“Loved with everlasting love, drawn by grace that love to know, Spirit sent from Christ above, thou dost witness it is so. O this full and precious peace from His presence all divine; in a love that cannot cease, I am His and He is mine.”
(1st verse of George Robinson’s hymn, “Loved With Everlasting Love,” 1890)

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