We as Christians can be really good at slogans and catchphrases. We can be awfully terrible, however, at definitions. for instance, many say they believe that salvation is “by grace through faith”, but few have actually meditated deeply on what that means (especially in its context in Ephesians 2). Definitions matter. They separate truth from error, “what I’m saying” from “what I’m not saying”.
Many of us will quickly say that Love is the mark of the church. We will acknowledge the Lord Jesus’ words that the world will know that we are his disciples when we love one another (John 13:35) or Paul’s words that without love we are useless to the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 13:1-3). But we rarely search the Scriptures to define love. Thus love is left to each believer to define on his/her own, which leads to chaos and, inevitably, disobedience.
This is why I was thankful that Paul Tautges put together a list of verses that define what God means when he says, “Love one another”. I’ve reproduced the list below:
1. Be devoted to one another (Rom. 12:10).
2. Give preference to one another (Rom. 12:10).
3. Be of the same mind toward one another (Rom. 12:16).
4. Accept one another by withholding judgment (Rom. 14:1).
5. Accept one another by showing deference (Rom. 14:1–5; 15:7).
6. Esteem [highly regard] one another in love (Rom. 14:5; Phil. 2:3).
7. Build up one another (Rom. 14:19; 1 Thes. 5:11).
8. Counsel one another (Rom. 15:14).
9. Serve one another by showing deference in matters of liberty (Gal. 5:13).
10. Bear one another’s sin burdens (Gal. 6:2).
11. Be gentle with one another (Eph. 4:2).
12. Be kind to one another so as to preserve unity (Eph. 4:32).
13. Speak truth to one another (Eph. 4:25; Col 3:9).
14. Submit to one another (Eph. 5:21).
15. Show compassion to one another (Col. 3:12).
16. Bear with the inherent sinfulness of one another (Col. 3:13).
17. Forgive one another (Col. 3:13).
18. Use Spirit-filled, Word-saturated music to teach and admonish one another (Col. 3:16; Eph. 5:19).
19. Comfort one another with the hope of Christ’s return (1 Thes. 4:18).
20. Encourage one another (1 Thes. 5:11).
21. Live in peace with one another (1 Thes. 5:13).
22. Seek good for one another (1 Thes. 5:15).
23. Encourage one another to forsake unbelief and hardness of heart (Heb. 3:13).
24. Stimulate one another to spiritual growth (Heb. 10:24).
25. Encourage one another by faithful participation in your local church (Heb. 10:25).
26. Confess sins to one another (James 5:16).
27. Pray for one another’s spiritual and physical healing (James 5:16).
28. Be long-suffering and patient toward one another (1 Peter 4:8; Eph. 4:2).
29. Be hospitable to one another without complaint (1 Peter 4:9).
30. Serve one another (1 Peter 4:10; Gal. 5:13).
31. Act in humility toward one another (1 Peter 5:5).
32. Show holy affection to one another (1 Peter 5:14).
33. Participate in the holy walk with one another (1 John 1:7).
34. Refuse to become resentful toward one another (1 John 3:11–12).
35. Give sacrificially to meet one another’s needs (1 John 3:16–17).
36. Fight fear together by growing in love (1 John 4:18).
37. Walk in truth together (1 John 3:18; 2 John 1:5).
Do you mean this when you say you are a loving Christian? Do you new this when you say you are a loving church? May the God who is love, who has demonstrated his love for us in Christ, and who has given us the Spirit of new covenant love, make us a properly-defined loving people for his glory.