Love's Overlexicalization

A linguistic term that means the overabundance of synonyms for one thing. As applied to the Bible you might say that God's love is elucidated and translated as love, lovingkindness, compassion, charity, et cetera. Admittedly, they are different words (in English), from different Hebrew and Greek words, but when you consider that they apply to one person (and only one), and "God is love" (1 John 4:8), then I think the definition of overlexicalization applies to this topic.

Whereas you have things like grace, mercy, light, peace, salvation, etc., as things that God bestows (yes, you could argue that He is the light, humor me), every synonym of love could well be seen as another way of describing who God is. Do you follow me?

Overlexicalization generally has a negative connotation in that it refers to an aspect or group of society that has overused a traditional term and then proceeds to create new words to describe the same thing. To neologise, as it were. The thing is, the synyonymity of the word love as applied to God, has nothing to do with the fact that we've outgrown our need to reference, and therefore live, the love of God. At least it shouldn't mean that.

"Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God." (1 John 4:7)

"A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." (John 13:34-35)

How do we know how Jesus loved and loves us unless we get to know Him? Sadly, there are Christians who don't truly know Jesus. And their love is shallow, stilted and contrived. The outcome of this "love" facsimile is the reverse of what Jesus describes in the above verse. People who aren't Christian won't see through us, the One whom we represent. Love Himself.

And pontification about these topics is a dangerous thing too. It's not enough to simply talk about these things. Love, like many things in life, is learned by doing. On the job training as it were. If you ask God to not only help you love where you are, but to make you a conduit for His love in this world at large, He will. But this is a commitment, a vow that once made, is not something you want to conveniently forget having applied for. Because God will take you at your word--"As I have loved you..."--and arrange for you to experience, not only a fuller revelation of His love for you, but also engineer circumstances to play into your newfound understanding of His love. And therefore live it out.

Love. Lovingkindness. Compassion. Charity. Jesus.

"...and the life which I now live in the flesh (my body) I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." (Galatians 2:20)

See, any synonym with which we live out the love of God is to be that very thing: lived out. When we choose God's will over our own, choosing to live selflessly toward Him and others, these ways of love become part of us. It's a journey that everyone who truly loves God should undertake, and will undertake if they truly love Him.

Making the Heart Grow Fonder (Love's Overlexicalization part 2)

All Mountains to the Sea (Landmark Study part 3)