In 1967 the Beatles released the song “Love Is All You Need”, which contained the now familiar lyrics “All you need is love, all you need is love, All you need is love, love, love is all you need”. As hopeful as those lyrics are, I don’t think that the writers, Paul Mccartney and John Lennon understood, nor had the capacity, to write lyrics that could paint an accurate picture of real love. The love that they wrote, and sung about, was an undefined love -a feeling. That song, and pop culture in general, demonstrate the inability of earthly minded artisans to give us any definitive or lasting picture of real love. For a real “working definition” of love, we might want to look to the inspired writings of another Paul, and another John…
Paul The Apostle on love:
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. -1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Here, Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, gives us the quintesential definition of God’s (agape) love. It’s not merely a happy feeling or a romantic notion -it goes far above those things. Real love endures.
In 1881 at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Charles Spurgeon had this to say regarding these verses:
“…though love has many difficulties, it overcomes them all, and overcomes them four times. There is such vitality in evil that it leaps up from the field whereon it seemed to be slain, and rages with all its former fury.
First, we overcome evil by patience, which “bears all things.” Let the injury be inflicted, we will forgive it, and not be provoked: even seventy times seven will we bear in silence.
If this suffice not, by God’s grace we will overcome by faith: we trust in Jesus Christ, we rely upon our principles, we look for divine succour, and so we “believe all things.”
We overcome a third time by hope: we rest in expectation that gentleness will win, and that long-suffering will wear out malice, for we look for the ultimate victory of everything that is true and gracious, and so we “hope all things.”
We finish the battle by perseverance: we abide faithful to our resolve to love, we will not be irritated into unkindness, we will not be perverted from generous, all-forgiving affection, and so we win the battle by steadfast non-resistance. We have set our helm towards the port of love, and towards it we will steer, come what may. Baffled often, love ” endures all things.”
As Charles so aptly illustrates, Paul the Apostle got it right. God’s love in Christ demonstrates all of these agape qualities.
John the Apostle on love:
“We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” -1 John 3:16
Though John had a great many things to say about love in his epistles, here he articulates the great example of love that Christ Jesus demonstrated to the world. Real love has given us an example to follow, and the example is the “laying down” of ones own life in service to another. Paul echoed these thoughts in his treatise of demonstrated love in Philippians chapter two: “…He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. -Philippians 2:8 Jesus is the demonstration and definition of love.
Ironically, in a fitting demonstration of the lasting nature of human love, the Beatles mostly uninspired pop hymn only topped the U.S. charts for one week, whereas the tribute song the Apostles wrote, has topped the charts for millennia -and even will forever.
Let’s endeavor to love one another, with a godly love.
#valentinesday #love #beatles #bible #Jesus