Grace Extending






From Valentine's Day to Good Friday

The Truest Definition of Love

by Bryce Morgan


While colorful hearts and cartoonish cupids are common images around Valentine's Day, the cross was the image the Apostle Paul wanted his reader to be informed and inspired by above all others. As Paul wrote in the opening verses of Ephesians 5, God has called us to “walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us”. You see, the cross does provide us with salvation. But it also provides us with a standard, with an example that we are called to follow. 

But what does it mean to follow Christ's example of love as expressed at the cross? None of us can die for the sins of the world in the same way Jesus did. So how can we express the same kind of love? Well, we have to make sure we truly understand what the cross tells us about love. 

Consider this definition of love in light of the cross: I think we could say that...Love is a passionate concern that gives, to whatever extent is necessary, in order to see God's best accomplished in another's life. 

Is this how you would define love? Is this the definition you work from when you love others? The world offers us many definitions of and examples of love, but oftentimes they are more self-grasping than self giving. 

Listen to what the French pastor and theologian John Calvin said about the cross. He wrote that it was a remarkable proof of the highest love. Forgetful, as it were, of himself, Christ spared not his own life, that he might redeem us from death. If we desire to be partakers of this benefit, we must cultivate similar affections toward our neighbors. Not that any of us has reached such high perfection, but all must aim and strive according to the measure of their ability. 

As we think about how Christ's cross should inform and inspire us, we can thank God for many other verses from Paul that describe just that (cf. II Corinthians 8:1-9; Ephesians 5:25-27; Philippians 2:5-8). 

But consider the example Paul just gave to his Ephesian readers. Listen to the last verse of Ephesians 4, verse 32: Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. If our heart has been made tender by the love that God showed us at the cross, if we are informed and inspired by the cross, then we should be forgiving others, just as God forgave us through Christ's death. 

This Valentine's Day, may the word love point you to Good Friday and Easter; may it point you to the cross of Christ, to the forgiveness God gives, and the forgiveness He makes possible through us, according to the same power with which He raised Jesus. 

* Adapted from the teaching series, “The Jewel: Understanding the Beauty of the Cross”



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