We shall now consider the qualities of Christ-like love. Love is to be sincere. “Let love be without hypocrisy” (Romans 12:9). The word hypocrisy comes from a root meaning a reply, and it came to mean the acting of stage-players, because such answered one another in dialogue. Hence it came to mean a pretence, acting a part.
Then love is to be innocent. “Love worketh no ill to his neighbour” (Romans 13:10). Delilah, under the guise of love, betrayed Samson. Judas, behind the veil of friendship and affection, betrayed the Lord Jesus. Yet the Lord, even in the Upper Room, gave him a final opportunity when He gave him the sop. We must understand that as an Eastern custom of the day it was a sign of friendship but it was rejected.
Again, love is to be generous. There are two types of love – the giving and demanding sorts. Christ’s love was such that “having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end”. “To the end” means to completion; it has been translated “to the uttermost”. Campbell-Morgan suggests another translation, “Having loved His own which were in the world He saw it through”. He knew all things, John tells us, yet knowing it all He saw it through. No turning back. Love giving all! Paul appealed to the Corinthians to show the proof of their love by the way they received his fellow missionaries (2 Corinthians 8:24).
And love is to be practical. Like faith, love is to be demonstrated by what we do. Christ showed it by:
i) taking our infirmities (Matthew 14:14);
ii) His compassion on the multitudes (Matthew 15:32);
He did not just come to talk about God’s love. He came to demonstrate it in a practical way. God’s love in Christ was eminently practical. To have merely spoken of it would have been inadequate. In this, redemption differs from creation. In creation God said, “Let there be light, and there was light” “He spake and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast”. But salvation is by the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. God paid the ransom price in the death of His Son. “Herein was the love of God manifested in our case, that God hath sent His only begotten Son …” (1 John 4:9 RVM). True love controls liberty (Galatians 5:13; Romans 14:15). There are some matters on which there is no direct Scriptural guide but there may be differences of opinion in regard to them. In such cases we are not entirely free to follow our conscience regardless of others. There is a necessary restriction; love for others. We may see no harm in a particular course of action but it may offend others. We must never forget that Christian liberty is controlled by Christian love, and by Christian responsibility for others.
But love does not ignore wrong. Paul had some harsh things to say to the Corinthians but it would not have been loving to ignore their failings. The criticisms had to be made. Christian love does not shut its eyes to faults. Love is not blind as is sometimes claimed. It will rebuke and discipline when it is called for but it will not do it with any sense of pleasure but with a sense of pain. Paul wrote, “For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be made sorry, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you” (2 Corinthians 2:4).
How wonderful is Christ-like love!