Christian Love: Origin and Characteristics
A) ORIGIN AND QUANTITY
Christian love is the love of God imparted to the believer through the Holy Spirit. The Bible says, “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us” (Romans 5:5).
The love of God has not been given to the believer in small quantities. It has been poured out into the believer. The measure that is in the believer is dependent on how much there is in God, and we know that there is absolutely no limit to love in God, since His whole being is love.
Every believer has all the love in himself that he needs to satisfy God and all in the Body of Christ. God has indeed given without measure. No believer should pray and say, “Lord, give me more love for this person. Lord, give me some love for this other person.” These are escapist prayers. They shift the responsibility to love away from the believer where it actually is.
If there is limitless love in each child of God, then why is it that the Church is love-starved? Why are there so many in the Church who need love and do not receive it? The answer is simple. Far too many believers do not want to give love. They do not want to let that which God has poured out into them flow out unto others. Believers are either selfish and hoard the love or they do not allow it to flow, because of self-love. Self-love manifests itself in the fear to love under the pretext: “I may be rejected. I may be ignored. I may get hurt.” The fear to get hurt is a true manifestation of self-love, and; true love and self-love are mutually exclusive.
That the reason for not loving is not the absence of love but the refusal to love is seen in the most loveless believer. When he has chosen the one he wants to love, there is no limit to what will be poured out and showered on that one. For the others, a tourniquet is applied so that nothing flows out, but to the preferred one, the tourniquet is removed in full. To others, it is removed in part. By a constant process of applying in full or applying in part or a total removal of the tourniquet, that person’s love pattern is set up. The tourniquet can also be used to block oneself from receiving love. We insist that all believers have from the Lord, an unusual reservoir of love. Whether they actually love or not is dependent on their wills and the pattern of release or withholding of love which they build for themselves over the years.
B) CHARACTERISTICS OF CHRISTIAN LOVE
The Bible says,
“Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends” (1 Corinthians 13: 4-8)
We can isolate eight positive characteristics of love.
- is patient
- is kind
- rejoices in the right
- bears all things
- believes all things
- hopes all things
- endures all things and
- is eternal (never ends).
Where there is love there is patience, and who can love and fail to be kind to the object of love? Who can love and not rejoice with the good of the beloved? Who will not bear with the one he loves? Who would dare to distrust the one he loves? Who does not hope the best for the one he loves? Who does not endure trials that come to him because of the one he loves? Who would give up the one he loves?
We can isolate eight characteristics that love does not have.
- is not jealous
- is not boastful
- is not arrogant
- is not rude
- is not irritable
- is not resentful
- does not insist on its own way
- does not rejoice at wrong.
We can say: Jesus is patient and kind, rejoices in the right, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things, never ends. We further say: Jesus is not jealous, boastful, arrogant, or rude. He does not insist on His own way; He is not irritable, or resentful, and does not rejoice at wrong. If we replace Jesus by your name, will it sound true or untrue?
Many believers, instead of loving, hate. They hate actively or passively. To ignore a person, to treat him as if he did not exist, is to hate him. To see a person’s need and refuse to do something to meet it is to hate the person. Also, to refuse to find out a person’s need is to hate him. We can isolate the following characteristics of hatred.
- is impatient
- is unkind
- rejoices at wrong
- bears nothing
- believes nothing
- hopes nothing
- endures nothing
- ends in death.
- is jealous
- is boastful
- is arrogant
- is rude
- insists upon its own way
- is irritable
- is resentful.
We can clearly say that the devil is impatient, unkind, rejoices at wrong, bears nothing, believes nothing, hopes nothing, and endures nothing. The devil is jealous, boastful, arrogant, rude, irritable, resentful. He ever insists upon his own way, and always rejoices at wrong.
If we replace the devil with your name, will it sound as an accurate or as an inaccurate description of you? This should make you think. You should substitute your name in place of the devil and weigh things carefully in your heart, then maybe you need to fall on your knees and beg God for mercy.
Excerpt From: The Way of Christian Character
Zacharias Tanee Fomum