Love is not merely one entity but is made up of many different parts. There are many different kinds of love. Bible love is by no means the same as the world’s love. “God is love” (1 John 4:8, 16). God is surely not the same as the world! God’s love is comprised of many different parts. He lists several of these parts in what has been called the ‘love chapter’ (1 Cor. 13).
Love 1) “suffereth long, and 2) is kind; charity 3) envieth not; charity 4) vaunteth not itself, 5) is not puffed up, 6) Doth not behave itself unseemly, 7) seeketh not her own, 8) is not easily provoked, 9) thinketh no evil; 10) Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but 11) rejoiceth in the truth;” (1 Cor. 13:4-8).
Someone may counter that these qualities are mostly negative. Though many of these parts are negative, we can understand that for every negative there is generally a corresponding positive. if love does not vaunt itself, it must be humble. If it does not behave itself ‘unseemly,’ it must behave itself ‘seemly.’ If love does not seek her own, then it must seek other’s good, etc. There are many other parts of God’s love which are not listed in 1 Corinthians 13. Every good part of God is a part of his love and the love of Christ, who is “. . .the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person” (Heb. 1:3). If we grow in Christ’s love we are growing in the love of God.
If our love lacks kindness, longsuffering, humility, or any other part, it is not the complete (perfect) love of Christ. We need to acquire each part to be “in the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” We grow into that complete love by keeping his commandments – which is the third part of the great commission – “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:20). We note what happens when someone has completely fulfilled the third part of the Great Commission. He declares: “But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him” (I John 2:5). Full obedience to the great commission ends in forming the perfect love of God in the disciple’s heart. Willing obedience to even one of the commandments of God, will give us a part of the love of Christ. Willingly obeying all of his commands will surely perfect (complete) all of the parts of Christ’s love in us. This is in line with the definition of love that Jesus gave the apostles just before his crucifixion.
He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me. (John 14:21-24)
Loving God with some of our heart, soul and mind, means obeying some of his commandments. Obeying the greatest command to “. . .love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” (Matt. 22:37), is to keep all of his commandments. Obedience to all of the commands will produce the complete love in our hearts (1 John 2:5). This is identical to John’s definition in the last chapter of first John.
By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous (1 Jn 5:2-3).
Thus, if we obey the first part of the great commission, we will make disciples whose aim and goal is to be like their master by obeying all things whatsoever Christ commands (Matt. 28:19, 20).