How Many Times Is Love Mentioned?
“Love” occurs 310 times in 280 verses in the KJV and 361 times in 322 verses in the NKJV.
That makes love very important!
This Love is the basis for a successful Christian.
Love is the why - the reason and motivation to live the way we do as Christians.
We see this wonderfully expressed in John’s gospel:
John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
It’s more important to know why you’re doing something than to know how to do it or what to do.
We see what God did: He sent His Son to Earth and through Jesus’ substitutionary work we can receive salvation. The “Why” is the first four words of that verse we read: “For God so loved”.
Without having God’s love in our heart, no matter what you are called to do, or how well you can do it, it won’t even matter.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 tells us that tongues, prophecy, knowledge, faith, generosity are all worthless without love. This doesn’t take away from the importance or effectiveness of any of those other gifts and attributes. Yet it makes it abundantly clear that love is the most important foundation in our life.
Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11, Hebrews 10:38… all three of these verses include the same thing “the just shall live by faith”. If we are to live by faith - that makes it one of the most important attributes we can have. In Galatians 5:6 we see this expression “faith which worketh by love”. Evidently, as important as faith is to the believer, you can’t properly function in faith without love.
Lets look at 3 areas of love:
- Love for God
- Love for yourself
- Love for others
Love for God
When you encounter God, you get a glimpse of His love for us. As much as you loved Him the day you were born again, it’s actually impossible to love him first: He loved us while we were still sinners.
He had us in mind when He went to the cross. The whole plan of redemption was to bring us back into right fellowship with Him.
Love for God is always reciprocated by Him - as we draw near to Him - He draws near to us (James 4:8). When you seek Him through worship, prayer, the word - His presence comes.
When you come into the family of God you are washed in the blood of Jesus - you lose all guilt, shame, and the weight of sin.
Through this process of God loving us - by healing us spiritually, physically, and emotionally, we develop a deeper love for Him.
There are levels progression in relationships - you’re not “all in” with a person until you’ve spent time developing that relationship. It’s no different with God. The more time that we spend communicating with Him in prayer, studying His written word, the more we will develop our relationship with Him. Through this process - His love inside of us will grow. Love is His nature, and the more we spend time with Him, the more we take on His nature.
Some people are trying to love others but they don’t love themselves. They don’t love themselves - because they don’t love God. You can’t love yourself or others until you have God’s love in you.
(Let me interject so that somebody doesn’t misunderstand what love I’m talking about. God’s love is different than human love. Our culture calls just about anything “love”. We love our food. We love our pets. We call sex “making love”. These kinds of love aren’t what we are describing - God’s love is totally different. It’s the selfless love that allowed Jesus to die for us.)
How do you know if you are growing in God’s love? Ask yourself: What am I doing to develop the love of God inside me? What am I doing to develop my relationship with God?
Just going to church without engaging doesn’t do it. That’s like going to a restaurant without eating. Imagine telling your friends about your favorite restaurant, though you’ve never tried their food.
I’ve seen a variety of people going to church through the years as a believer.
Some people come to church and are physically present, but that’s the extent of their investment. They don’t sing during worship, let alone express an ounce of emotion. Sometimes I think I’ve seen more expression out on a tree tree stump than some people in church.
- They nap during the sermon, or are mentally checked out.
- They hear everything through a filter, so they only apply what they like.
- They don’t give in the offering.
- They don’t get involved.
You can’t fake love, it is evidenced by your lifestyle: your words and your actions.
If people don’t express love for God at church (where that’s what everyone is gathered to do) are we to believe that that’s what they’re doing outside of church? Very unlikely.
Not everybody at church is like that. There are those that go to church and are engaged in the service and may even help out, but that’s where their commitment stops. There is no personal development throughout the week.
One or two days a week isn’t enough. “Going to church on Sunday morning and a midweek service isn’t enough?”
Well let me ask:
If you were married to somebody and you saw them 8 times a month for 1-2 hours at a time, do you think that would blossom into true love? You might be able to make that work for a short period of time, but if that’s all you saw of your spouse for your whole life, it would be very difficult to stay in love.
That’s no different than “seeing” God at church a couple times a week. As with marriage, to be successful there has to be continual effort into the relationship to make it flourish.
There are those that truly love God - and it is evidenced by their lifestyle
When you are focusing on your relationship with God on a regular basis - it isn’t doesn’t take much to get you into His presence.
As a pastor of a church, I can look around the sanctuary during our worship and see people that are able to enter into God’s presence just minutes into the service. They are intently listening to the message and trying to glean as much from it as they can. They are generous when the offering is collected. They are willing to help in any way they can in service and during the week.
I can tell that these people haven’t neglected their relationship with God throughout the week. They are a stark contrast to some that look like they are sitting in the waiting room of a dentist’s office.
It’s up to you to develop a love for God, and when you do - the rewards are never ending.
Love for yourself
Many people don’t love themselves.
Unsaved people only know how to love themselves in a carnal way: pride, ego, arrogance, selfishness etc.
I’m talking about Christian people that don’t love themselves. They don’t see themselves in a positive light. They know their faults and their flaws better than anything else. They talk negatively about themselves. They have low self esteem. They aren’t confident in themselves.
These are all symptoms of not loving ourselves.
God loves us, so why don’t we love us?
We should love ourselves:
Mark 12:31 tells us “You shall love your neighbor as yourself”
Most people read this verse and see the aspect of loving others. However, according to this verse, you can’t love others more than you love yourself.
I wrote all about loving yourself here. In short: if we are to love ourselves we have to know our source, the one who created us and gives us our worth. We need to let Him mold us and shape us - let Him define who we are. As we see ourselves the way He sees us, we will be able to love ourselves.
Love for others
Love for others is what causes us to do. Do what?
To do something for others that will allow them to see the love of God. You can become God’s vessel to serve His love to humanity.
This is where our true purpose comes from.
It’s probably no surprise that one of my favorite places to eat is Chick-fil-A. I believe that it was because Truett Cathy loved people that he fried the gospel bird in such a way that it has become a world famous chicken sandwich. (I don’t have any basis for this, but that’s just the way I imagine it)
Love for others - inspired by the love of God - will cause you to make a difference.
When you do something that is based in the love of God it is reflected in everything you do.
Say for example that you start a company, you are helping people achieve something - through products, ideas, technology etc. As you follow God, you will do it in excellence because God doesn’t doing things sloppy.
Your company tithes to the church because ultimately you’re doing what you do to further God’s kingdom.
As a benefit of furthering God’s kingdom He will cause you to be successful. The Bible says God will bless the work of your hands!
Love for others will inspire you to do great things for God’s kingdom and will help many people along the way.
Love for others causes you to be a better spouse. You’ll want to see your spouse succeed and be blessed just as much as you do.
Love for others causes you to parent better. You know that you have about 18 years where you can make the greatest impact on your child so you make the most of it. You want your children to serve God so you love them the way God loves you.
Love for others is the motivation to minister to others:
- You want them to get saved so they won’t to go to hell.
- You want to see others find and fulfill their purpose.
- You want them living in divine health.
- You want them blessed and living in victory.
This causes you to dig into God’s word, to seek Him, to seek His wisdom - so that when people need something you have something to give.
It’s love that must be the root of everything we do for others. Everything that isn’t done in love will come to nothing.
1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.
When we love others we prove that we are born of God! Some may say that they are of God - but unless they are loving others we have no reason to believe them.