The top Bible verses about love offer views of love that is contrary to our culture. We use love as a term of affection, not as a term that challenges our affections. When the Bible says to love our enemies or love our neighbors, God is challenging us to stretch out our affections into categories we would otherwise want to run away from. When the Bible says to love the Lord, our God, He is asking us to come in close and surrender all of our earthly loves. When our community asks us to love our neighbors, which it would never do, it’s really only asking us to tolerate them and not cause trouble for law enforcement or anyone else.
But God’s love is wrapped and wrapped again in his story with humanity. It’s not a love that dips down occasionally; It’s a love that is a driving force in nature all around us. And we are intimately part of the story. We are made in his image and are cared for more than the birds or flowers or anything else. We are loved beyond measure and worth.
Here are some top verses that point to the story of God’s love and how we ought to love him and each other. The top Bible verses about love, broken into 5 different categories:
“If we have got the true love of God shed abroad in our hearts, we will show it in our lives. We will not have to go up and down the earth proclaiming it. We will show it in everything we say or do.” – Dwight L. Moody
Our church family: They will know us by our love
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:34-35
Jesus unsettles us again by introducing a new command, that we should love one another as he loves us. Why? Because it’s a witness for the surpassing love of Jesus and the way it has shaped and changed us. The pagans who run around and use one another for their own gain, that’s not the picture of the church. Jesus died and says we need to take up our cross and follow him. We do it together and love one another on the journey. In it, the world sees a love that is beyond comprehension, a love that is contagious.
Our friends and family: Loving those close to us
“Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling.” – 1 John 2:20
It’s often said that your family truly knows your strengths and weaknesses. How we treat those who are immediately around us will demonstrate our commitment to the Gospel. In many ways, it’s much easier to be kind to someone you just met and may not meet again. Those who are constant in your life know the thorns, as Paul calls his weakness. Let us love one another and be patient.
Those we come in contact with: Our aim is love
“The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” – 1 Timothy 1:5
Like an archer whose aim is always on the bulls-eye, our life needs to have one target: love. It’s not love from a rock song or love that seeks any gain. It’s love that stems from a pure heart and a good conscience, knowing that we can only love because Jesus first loved us and made himself the pointer to the kingdom of God. If we love in artificial ways, we know it. We are seeking claim on someone, or we’re wanting something in return – a trade-off that benefits us maybe more than whomever we’re loving at the moment.
Your wife: Enjoy life and love her
“Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain life that he has given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun.” – Ecclesiastes 9:9
Solomon offers great advice about the affections we should keep. He made many mistakes in his life and Ecclesiastes is, in part, a listing of all of his regrets. We should learn from him and pray continually that our lives will reflect God’s hope for us. The man of so many women simply says, “Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain life that he has given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun.” It’s advice laced with a healthy dose of reality. It’s not easy, but love your spouse and keep at it. Many things are vain and useless in life, but that’s not one. Be faithful and stay committed. We know our marriage relationship is a testimony to Jesus’ relationship with his church.
Love one another
“For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.” – 1 John 3:11
God’s love didn’t come into the world and exit it. He didn’t simply pop in for a visit. God’s love toward humanity is wrapped again and again in a narrative, a story from the Garden of Eden to the Garden of Gethsemane, and well beyond. It’s a message that we’ve heard “from the beginning” that we should love because Jesus taught us to love, because in his steadfast love, he moved Abraham to start a story of covenant through Isaac and so on. When we doubt if we are loved, let’s reflect on Scripture and prayerfully be reassured that we are indeed loved with the steadfast love of Almighty God.
Love with tenderness and humility
“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.” – 1 Peter 3:8
What is brotherly love? It’s the love that Jesus models, a love that is rooted in self-sacrifice and appreciation, not for gifts or talents or position, but in the truth that our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ are on the same path, working out their salvation with fear and trembling. Let us rally for one another and spur each other toward lives of holiness and wholeness.
Your enemy: Love extends to them
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” – Matthew 5:43-44
You’ve probably heard the adage that if you have no enemies, you likely don’t know love, or at least the depths of love. When we define our enemies–and they can be of all stripes from those who personally annoy us to the one that cuts us off in traffic to the one that openly persecutes us–we put a face on Jesus’ call. That’s the person, those are the people he wants us to love, not passively, but aggressively.
You can’t love and hate at the same time
“If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.” – 1 John 4:20
The Christian life is not only right thinking, it’s right living. If you think all the right theology and bang around with all the right answers, but you hate people, none of it matters. You’re the chief sinner that uses Christianity to solve all your internal doubts about purpose and eternity, but you never use it as a salve to love your brother and love God in active ways.
Our love for one another helps us see God
“No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.” – 1 John 4:12
In many ways, our love for each other is an open pronouncement of God’s kingdom, on earth as it is in heaven. It’s a protest to all the talk of tolerance, because tolerance is far too easy. Love demands we engage and surrender our selfishness and agendas. It is here, in those moments, that we are more fully made perfect. It’s not sitting on a column as the stoics who tried desperately to find peace and solace. It’s in the middle of the dirt and grime of life that we see God working in and through us, loving that pushes past our understanding.
Strangers: Love them because God loves you
“Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.” – Deuteronomy 10:19
Loving our neighbor is not a new command. As you know, Jesus was quoting Leviticus and Deuteronomy. I like how Deuteronomy puts it: “Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.” We were all alienated from God because of our sin, and brought into redemption by God’s reach toward us. It is his grace, not our good looks or works or position, in case we might boast about anything we did to merit favor. That’s what gives cause to loving our neighbor. It’s the story of God’s intervening in time – the longer story of Egypt and Jesus’ death and resurrection, and the shorter story of him tapping us on the shoulder in an invitation to follow him.
Everyone: Love them widely
“For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?” – Matthew 5:46-47
Jesus puts us on the spot about love and then he throws this zinger at the disciples in the next verse: “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” When we follow Jesus, we are obligated to love widely and to love without judgement. It makes us vulnerable, but it will form us into the people God is asking us to become.
Be ready to sacrifice
“Better is a dinner of herbs where love is than a fattened ox and hatred with it.” – Proverbs 15:17
Proverbs 15:17 is a great reminder of priorities. If we are pursuing riches or fame or legacy, we might get one or all of these things. It might afford us attention and magnificent feasts that satisfy us in the moment. It doesn’t automatically lead to hate, but Proverbs warns us that it might. Our highest good should be to love God and nothing else. When we do, we won’t care as much about our circumstances since he is pursuing us in and through them.
Love That Stands Out
“What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.” -Augustine
What is the greatest?
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” – 1 Corinthians 13: 1-3
I Corinthians 13 levels all of us. We lose our footing and our true intentions are exposed as conceited, selfish, and sinful. Whenever I read I Corinthians, I’m convicted on how loud I am. I’m clanging around life wanting my own way, seeking my own comforts. We all want a legacy. I Corinthians reminds us that we should hunt after true love and not those things that prop us up as “good” and “wise” and “sacrificial.” We should love because we should and maybe that will begin to develop into because we want to.
Put on love
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” – Colossians 3:12-14
Similar to 1 Corinthians 13, Paul tells us what we ought to be showcasing the fruit of what it means to follow Jesus. The root of it all is love. “Above all,” Paul says, “put on love.” It’s our clothing, our speech, our attitude, our outlook, our daily devotion. If we put on anything else, we are like the fateful king who was convinced he was dressed in the best clothes, but instead was dressed in nothing at all.
Keep loving one another
“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” – 1 Peter 4:8
Love covers our sins. We know this by Jesus’ death. We also know this in practice. If you have a longtime friend, you may have experienced this covering. You love them because of the history you have together and the goodwill you share. You just love them in spite of all their weaknesses. You don’t overlook the weakness, but you don’t use it as a basis for judgement. That’s a little of what Peter is talking about. We are all sinners who are working on what it means to love… so love, and Jesus will work in our lives to make dwelling in us and eradicate our sin.
The Love of God
“We should be astonished at the goodness of God, stunned that He should bother to call us by name, our mouths wide open at His love, bewildered that at this very moment we are standing on holy ground.” – Brennan Manning
God so loved…
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16
God’s love is massive! It’s inexpressible. John puts it down in the most quoted of verses as, “God so loved the world.” He loves everything he created back during those six days of work, and everything since, as he creates each day anew. He loves the mountains and the trees, the birds and beasts and fish, the wind and the rain… and he loves us. He wants it all redeemed of the curse that we brought on top of all the radiance of God’s love. And he invites us into that eternal truth.
By this we know love
“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.” – 1 John 3:16
Jesus comes to show us love. He does it in a way that we can’t mistake his love for us and the hope we’ve been given. He surrendered his life to save us. That’s the model our awesome God provides. And then, in a twist of the story, he invites us into the same place, to give ourselves as living sacrifices.
His love is steadfast
“The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” – Exodus 34:6
Exodus 15:13 says, “You have led in your steadfast love the people whom you have redeemed; you have guided them by your strength to your holy abode.” It’s Moses’s song after God’s deliverance from Egypt. We see Moses’s heart and relationship with God. Moses knows God’s steadfast love firsthand. He’s seen it, personally through his own redemption, and corporately with the exodus of the Israelites. God leads and his steadfast love is with us on the journey. He’ll hear God directly on Mount Sinai when he passes by him and says, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (34:6)
See what kind of love!
“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.” – 1 John 3:1
The love of God is not something he had to demonstrate. He could have enacted judgement. He will certainly do that at the day of reckoning, but he has also given us a way out. He loves us and calls us into his family, to be his children. What a powerful expression of love! He changes our hated title of Sinner and calls us Child.
God keeps his promise to love
“Now, therefore, our God, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love, let not all the hardship seem little to you that has come upon us, upon our kings, our princes, our priests, our prophets, our fathers, and all your people…” – Nehemiah 9:32
God as Rescuer is the central part of this epic story he is still writing today. As you know, by the time we get to Ezra and Nehemiah, we see God working through Cyrus the Great and Zerubbabel to help Israel rebuild Jerusalem. It’s an act of reconciliation with the remnant of people who remained faithful in Babylon. Their return is evidence that God doesn’t forget and is always weaving redemption and steadfast love into the story… into our story. And as the people confess their sins, the priests acknowledge, “the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love,” even when their lives are corrupt and in opposition to his plan.
He will save us
Turn, O Lord, deliver my life; save me for the sake of your steadfast love. – Psalm 6:4
Over and over again, like a song that affects us so deeply we keep it looped on Spotify, the Psalms replay God’s steadfast love. Amid all the tumult of our hearts and the world around us, both then and now, we see God’s steady, outstretched arm, as Psalm 136:12 says, that continues to invade our selfish lives. He wants us to take hold and be changed. He doesn’t change his position, but we are always all over the map, wandering everywhere, like the 40 year path the Israelites took through the wilderness. Let us cry out with the Psalmist, “Turn, O Lord, deliver my life; save me for the sake of your steadfast love.” If we do, he will deliver us.
God’s love is poured into our hearts
…we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. – Romans 5:3-5
What a picture! God’s love is poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit. It’s not a drop or a drip, it’s a rush of water like Niagara Falls, being poured into every part of us to reshape us. We often talk about God’s love in a way that seems distant and reserved, in part because our circumstances sometimes disguise how much he is loving us every second of every day. Let us pray for pause enough in our daily activities to acknowledge the love God is pouring out.
He gave himself for us
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. – Galatians 2:20
I hope none of us get over the death and resurrection of Jesus. There are many who dismiss the story of Jesus because it’s too familiar, or too simple, or too something. Let us be like Paul who couldn’t stop talking about Jesus Christ crucified. He knew it was the crux of everything. Galatians 2:20 is one of many examples from Paul’s letters. He says, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Nothing can separate us
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? – Romans 8:35
God’s love is eternal. Nothing is beyond it or stands in its path. Our days might be dark and our soil might be rocky, but his love will endure and we can have confidence that he who began a good work in us will see it to completion. Let us stand at the ready to receive his peace and mercy and direction, because in our hopelessness there is always his hope, his love, his will that won’t be shaken.
“Consider what you owe to His immutability. Though you have changed a thousand times, He has not changed once.” – Charles Spurgeon
With all your heart, soul, might
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.” – Deuteronomy 6:5-6
We are each instructed to love God with all our heart, soul and might. We are not allowed to reserve anything for ourselves. There’s more. We are told to graft them into our lives at every turn: “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (7-9).
How much do we love God?
“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” – Matthew 10:37
We need to make sure our affection is in God and that nothing usurps his supremacy in our loves. Jesus is using the closest relationships that many of us have to provide a perspective for us. Our love for God supersedes and unseats all other loves. It means we are on the journey to love God infinitely more than anything and anyone else. So with the hymn writer, we can sing, “and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.”
What is required?
“…what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” – Deuteronomy 10:12
What does the Lord require? It’s the same question of the rich man who approaches Jesus. It’s the heart of so many of our actions. We work and work and work, and if we’re not careful we’re working to resolve the doubt regarding how God will answer us when we ask, “What do you require?” We know theologically that we are in God’s favor because of Jesus’ sacrifice, but to live this into all our steps, is more difficult. Deuteronomy 10:12 helps us with the answer. The scripture says that we are, “to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.”
Love God; Love your neighbor
“And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” –Mark 12:33
We love ourselves a lot. Make a note of how many times we check our appearance in the mirror. We want to make sure how we present ourselves is appealing. It’s an example of how attentive we should be of others, how much we ought to love them. We should love as we love ourselves, with a love that perhaps dismisses flaws, and a love that might disregard improper judgments to see the excuses of poor decisions are commonplace. All of these habits we keep for ourselves, applied to others, so we might love exceptionally and without exception.
Be Careful to love God
“Be very careful, therefore, to love the Lord your God.” – Joshua 23:11
Joshua addresses the leadership in the newly fought after Promised Land. The chapter starts with, “A long time afterward, when the Lord had given rest to Israel from all their surrounding enemies, and Joshua was old and well advanced in years…” This is old man Joshua’s wise words to the next group of leaders, and it’s a time of rest. We’d say it’s a time of peace. And Joshua warns them midway down to, “Be very careful, therefore, to love the Lord your God.” Even though Israel is at rest, there is a looming presence of sin and debauchery, both from within their people and external temptations to follow other gods without. Be careful in our time of peacefully following Jesus, that we don’t fall away and begin to love anyone or anything else.
Abide in Christ’s love
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.” – John 15:9
God is sufficient in showing love. The Trinity shows love –the Father to the Son to the Holy Spirit. So, as the Father loves the Son, we should both know we are loved and we should abide in that love.
You have a purpose
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28
What Not To Love
“If you know that God loves you, you should never question a directive from Him. It will always be right and best. When He gives you a directive, you are not to just observe it, discuss it, or debate it. You are to obey it.” – Henry Blackaby
Don’t love pleasures
“Now therefore hear this, you lover of pleasures, who sit securely, who say in your heart, ‘I am, and there is no one besides me…'” – Isaiah 47:8
Isaiah goes on to say, “You felt secure in your wickedness; you said, ‘No one sees me’; your wisdom and your knowledge led you astray, and you said in your heart, ‘I am, and there is no one besides me.’ But evil shall come upon you, which you will not know how to charm away.” It’s a warning to us. Don’t love pleasures which fill you with ego and rude confidence that shuns accountability. We will be led away from true faith and into a life of sin. Instead, let’s pursue God and never break Sabbath, always coming together in fellowship each week to stay humble and broken in the grace of Jesus our God.
Don’t be unfaithful
“Many claim to have unfailing love, but a faithful person who can find? The righteous lead blameless lives; blessed are their children after them.” – Proverbs 20:6-7
Let’s be faithful. Let’s be true. Let’s be followers of Jesus that don’t waver with the winds, but know who we are and to whom we belong.
Don’t love the world
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” – 1 John 2:15
The world and all its charms will try and unravel us. It wants us to depend on it and not God. Let us not love the world but fall headlong into the love that God showed the world, that while we were yet sinners, he came to redeem us.
Don’t love your life
“Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” – John 12:25
If you love life, you forget the curse. Christianity is about recognizing that life is a moment that bleeds into eternity because of Jesus. If we think we are here for long, we are mistaken. We are like the flowers and the grass. Let our confidence be in God alone and not what we’ll do to shape our days into something that will not last.
Don’t love money
“No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” – Luke 16:13
Loving money means you have fallen into the trap of temporal allurements and entrapments by the Devil. We are made for so much more. We are made for eternity and our allegiances are with a God that isn’t short of cash. If we surrender it all to him, he can do infinitely more in and through us.
Don’t love yourself
“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good…” – 2 Timothy 3:1-3
Stop loving yourself so much. Consider abandoning the gym if it means more time to pray. Consider abandoning whole foods if it means giving more money to the food bank. Consider abandoning sleep if it means a moment to wrestle with the Living God like Jacob. Unless we’re serious about questioning all these creature comforts, we might not fall out of love with ourselves and fall in love with our Creator.
Don’t love money (again)
“No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” – Luke 16:13
Don’t love money because you can’t serve it and God at the same time. It’s as simple as that. If you try to pack both into your heart, you’ll squeeze God out, and your love for money and all the things it temporarily provides will fill you and satisfy you only for a moment. The reality, however, is that we are made for eternity and money can’t go there.
Don’t love position
“Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seat in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces.” – Luke 11:43
Don’t love where you sit and who you sit by at a gathering or party. It’s so high school, right? Let’s stop it. A way to stop caring so much might be parking your car. Enter a parking lot and park in a distant spot. Forget trying to park up close. Leave that for the ones who are clamoring after all the busyness of life. Pray as you walk into the shopping center. You might begin to think the best seat is a silly thing to love.
Don’t love money (again… and again)
“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” – 1 Timothy 6:10
You can’t get away from it. If you love money, you know it. Admit it and begin by giving your money away. You might find you’re giving your life away, to God and for his glory, in the process.
Don’t love darkness
“And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.” – John 3:19
We love to be in the dark where no one sees what exactly we’re doing. Let’s run into God’s light. Let it be exposed so we can begin to be transformed by his steadfast love and not our own desires.
Don’t love your life (again)
“And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.” – Revelation 12:11
Let us be among the saints who, “have conquered [the devil] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.” What a glorious scene of ending and new beginning. Finally, after the last sin, burden, lonely night, cry for help, there is an answer in the mighty work of Jesus, triumphant and radiant, who looks at those who loved him more than the breath in their lungs, and he says, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25:34).