And Finally, Add Love
AND FINALLY, ADD LOVE
Growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord involves the development of Christ-like character. This growth process requires diligence. It involves adding various graces to our faith.
We come to the last in the series of graces listed in 2 Peter 1:5-7—love. Our spiritual growth is simply not complete without it. It stands here as the crown of all virtues. It is often exalted above all others. “The greatest of these is love” (1 Cor. 13:13).
This love is agape, which denotes the attitude which God has extended toward us, and which he requires from us toward himself. God’s love toward us is evoked not by what we are, but by who he is. It is not that we are lovable or deserve to be loved, but that God himself is love.
So, this agape-love can be defined as a deliberate, willful desire for the highest good of the one loved, which shows itself in sacrificial action for that person’s good. This is what God did for us. “God so loved…” (John 3:16). “While we were sinners…” (Rom. 5:8). “He laid down His life…” (1 John 3:16). “Greater love has no one than this…” (John 15:13).
This is the love God wants us to develop in ourselves. It is part of becoming partakers of the divine nature. God wants to replicate the same kind of love in us.
Love is the walk of those who imitate Christ. “And walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma” (Eph. 5:2).
Love is the garment of God’s elect. “Beyond all these things put on love” (Col. 3:12-14).
Love is the motive of our actions. “Let all that you do be done in love” (1 Cor. 16:14).
Love is the adhesive of unity. “Having been knit together in love…” (Col. 2:2).
Love is the definition of true liberty and service. “Do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another” (Gal. 5:13).
Love is the demonstration that we are children of God. "But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:35-36).
Love is the proof that we know God. “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God” (1 John 4:7).
“By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:9-11).