Love is Cruel as the Grave

We are all familiar with one side of love. It is kind and loving which seems all good. Most Christians quote what Paul wrote in his letter to Corinthians.

Compassion

1 Cor 13:4-7 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

What Paul wrote is nothing new but a more general kindness and non-violence preached by leaders of other religion as well. This neither means God is not loving or kind nor does it means we are not to be loving and not kind.

Ps 86:15 But You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious, Longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth.

Matt 5:7 Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.

As the Scripture and Christ said, it is important to be merciful. But the other side of love is never mentioned by Paul which is the greatest deception of His letters.

Matt 22:37-40 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ “This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

Gal 5:14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Compare these two verses and identify Paul’s deception on what kind of love is missed out. Paul explains further it in Rom 13:8-10. There is nothing wrong in loving others as ourselves, in fact Christ commanded this as the second greatest commandment. There is nothing wrong having the following characteristics. In fact, it is good to have them.

  • Suffering long and kind
  • Having no envy;
  • Not parading and not puffed up
  • Not behaving rudely
  • Not seek its own
  • Not provoked
  • Not to think evil
  • Not rejoicing in iniquity, but rejoicing in the truth
  • Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things – Not entirely true. (Just because if you happen to have a neighbour who speaks contrary to what Christ taught, will you believe in him and hope from that he says? If Paul wrote in a sense of being innocent, then it’s okay. If not, it’s a great deception.)

However, as previously mentioned it is just one side of the coin.

Cruel as the Grave

 

Song 8:6b-7 For love is as strong as death, Jealousy as cruel as the grave; Its flames are flames of fire, A most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love, Nor can the floods drown it. If a man would give for love All the wealth of his house, It would be utterly despised.

tomb

Look at how king Solomon, the wisest king defines love.

  • As Strong as death
  • Jealousy as cruel as the grave
  • Its flames are flames of fire, a most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love nor can the floods drown it.
  • If a man would give for love All the wealth of his house, It would be utterly despised.

This looks like completely opposite of what we just saw regarding love. So, love is not just long-suffering, kind, and having no envy (on what other’s have) but rather, it is also strong as death, and it’s jealousy (on seeking it’s own) is as cruel as the grave. Love doesn’t behave rudely is wrong for it is an unquenchable vehement flame. If a man would give for love all the wealth of his house, It would be utterly despised. This is the other side of love with which we must love God.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Deut 4:24 “For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.

God’s love is as strong as death for He gave His own son to die on the cross. God is a consuming fire and His jealousy towards us made Him to go to the grave. If a man would give for love all the wealth of his house, it would be utterly despised but Christ gave Himself to be despised and mocked for His love towards us. Now, that’s the love God expects us to love Him with.

Love is as strong as Death

Matt 16:24-25 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.

God expects us to love Him not just by denying ourselves, but even to extend of losing our own life.

Love is Jealous

Luke 14:26 “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.

Rev 2:4 “Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.

God is jealous towards us that we need to love Him more anything in this world.

Wealth is utterly despised before love

Luke 14:33 “So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.

God expects us to forsake all to follow Him. Forsake does not mean selling all and giving it to charity and then becoming a homeless person from tomorrow. It means, we need to forsake all the wealth and it will be utterly despised, if they are hindrance in the relationship and love we have in God. In other words, if a family has a little child suffering from a medical condition and the cure costs nearly the entire wealth of that man, will not the man sell all that he has to save his little child? That’s exactly what it means to forsake all. We need to forsake all that comes in between us and God.

Problem with Paul’s definition

It seems as though there is nothing wrong with Paul’s definition of love at first glance. But the more you investigate, the more deception you will discover.

1 Cor 13:4-7 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Song 8:6b-7 For love is as strong as death, Jealousy as cruel as the grave; Its flames are flames of fire, A most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love, Nor can the floods drown it. If a man would give for love All the wealth of his house, It would be utterly despised.

If you carefully notice, Paul is defining love mostly through negation and Solomon is defining love mostly through affirmation. Paul’s definition has serious flaws and problems. It is like explaining something by hiding facts. e.g.,

Lion is very social and belongs to the cat family; lion is not tiger, lion is not cheetah; lion does not live in water but on land. Lions are critically endangered. Lion of Judah is a title for Jesus Christ.

The above description paints a very good impression of lion and hides the other side of it’s character.

Lion is a carnivore and cruel. It will hunt and kill it’s prey for food. Who can arouse a lion? It is the king of the forest. A roaring lion is compared to the devil. 

Is Paul explaining just one side of love without exposing the other side? Yes. In fact, he is not explaining love at all. Strike out all the negations to see what gets exposed.

1 Cor 13:4-7 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Long-suffering is patience and to show kindness is not love. Someone can be patient and not love, just like someone waiting in a queue patiently does not mean he or she loves the person at the counter. Someone can be kind and not love, just like the fake smile with kindness which all hospitality and retail employees are trained to smile at customers. Rejoicing in truth is also not love either since even a wicked person can rejoice in it if it is favourable for him. Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things – none of these are love but we can consider it as being innocent. In short, Paul is not actually defining love but throwing out a few attributes like patience, kindness and being innocent and assigning it to love.

Song 8:6b-7 For love is as strong as death, Jealousy as cruel as the grave; Its flames are flames of fire, A most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love, Nor can the floods drown it. If a man would give for love All the wealth of his house, It would be utterly despised.

Now look at Solomon’s definition. Love is as strong (or harsh) as death. It’s a vehement flame. Every wealth before it is utterly despised.

Conclusion

The love Paul is referring to is having compassion, mercy and kindness. You show these attributes to someone whom you love.

Matt 16:25 “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.

John 15:12-13 “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.

But God expects an entirely different level of love, even to the level of laying down our own lives for Christ and for our fellow brethren in Christ, to love one another just as He loved us. It is a love that is cruel as the grave. However, Christ never asked any of His disciples to die for any pagan or for a pagan cause to show love but for Him and for His gospel’s sake for He is a jealous God.

Luke 6:35-36 But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.

Luke 14:5 Then He answered them, saying, “Which of you, having a donkey or an ox that has fallen into a pit, will not immediately pull him out on the Sabbath day?”

The love Paul is referring to is same as what Jesus taught about being merciful and kind to enemies and animals. Christendom had replaced the love for God and the love for fellow brethren in Christ with the general love of being kind and compassionate using Paul, thus rejecting the true love taught by Christ which is cruel as the grave.