What is Love?
Last week I wrote a post entitled "What is Romance." In it I gave a short definition of what love is and isn't. My intention was to encourage you to think about the difference between love and lust in romance.
Now lets talk a little more about love.
When I hear people talking about love, it's usually one of these three different statements: "I love my boyfriend" "I love my family" or "I love ice cream."
These show different types of love: Romantic, platonic, and an exaggerated like.
They all have something in common. They all express an affection, fondness, or attachment to something. When we talk about we love something we are referring to how much we like it or want it. "I love my boyfriend, of course I want him to be with me." I only love him because he loves me. If he were dating someone else I wouldn't love him so much. His attention makes me feel special. "I love my family because they take care of me and support me." If they didn't take care of me I wouldn't love them so much. "I love ice cream, of course I want some!" My love for ice cream is selfish because I only want the ice cream for me. Because I like to eat it. Because it makes me feel good.
While this sounds great on the surface, it isn't authentic lasting love. Yes when we love someone we do want to spend time with them. We should love the people who love and support us. You should love ice cream, otherwise you're crazy! But this kind of love is relative, It is caused by something else. I didn't just choose to love some random person, I love them because they do things for me.
1 John 4: 19 says "We love him, because he first loved us." Our love is relative. We love God because He loved us first. Our love for Him depends on His love for us.
Romans 5: 8 says "But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners Christ died for us." God's love is not relative. He loves us knowing we're sinners, knowing we might never love Him back.
You will never know authentic love apart from God.
1 John 4: 8 says "He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love."
In 1 Corinthians 13 the Bible uses the word charity for love. I believe God did this on purpose. You may wonder why God would choose to say "charity." Isn't charity when you help poor people? Yes, it that is a form of charity.
When you give money or clothes to a rescue mission or homeless shelter you are showing authentic love. (If your motives are right.) You are giving without expecting anything in return. That is what love is! 1 Corinthians 16:14 says "Let all your things be done with charity."
What else is love? A very wise friend recently told me: "When I think of love the first word that comes to mind is honest. Loving someone requires honesty. It also requires kindness. You can be honest with someone all you want, but if you aren't also kind it won't do any good."
If you love someone you need to be honest with them. Without being afraid of what they will think in response. "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love." (1 John 4: 18)
Love cannot be afraid.
My brother has made some decisions in his adult life that I don't support 100%. He knows because I told him this. He isn't upset that I don't agree with him because when he asked me what I thought; I was honest and shared my true feelings in a kind way. I love him, and didn't let him go on with these decisions without showing him that. By saying "I love you" but also by showing him that.
A few years ago some friends that my brother and I grew up with decided to take a path contrary to what we believe God wants for His children. That was a really difficult thing to watch and still is. We love them. But we watched them walk down a path we knew would only lead to hurt. In this case they made their decisions for themselves, and we can only pray for them, and that "only" is extremely powerful.
Be honest, but also be kind. Brash, unfeeling honesty will defeat loving intentions.
My friend went on to say:
"The greatest example of love is of course, the cross. And so I think that one of the best ways to identify love is in that comparison of knowing that you would put that other person behind you, protect them, die for them even, rather than let some evil befall them. The willingness that you have to put that other person first. Whether the love be parental, platonic, or romantic, these aspects are often involved. The mantra of "actions speak louder than words" definitely applies here. Obviously love was meant to have a big part in our lives..."the greatest of these is charity"...and when I think of the love that Jesus has for me and for the whole world, I am thankful that I can simply have a part in it."
John 15: 13 "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." Jesus gave His life for us and said "This is love!"
So I leave you with this... "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)
Everyone loves a good love story right? We love to open up our novels and get swallowed up into the fairy tale romance.
As a girl, I have often felt it my duty to defend romance. When my guy friends talk about how "unrealistic" romance movies are, I have to say something in defense of them. Like the boy who defends his little brother against the bully and says "No one can push him around except me!" It took me a while to realize you can love something, and still admit that it has flaws. I realized how distorted the idea of romance has become, and it saddens me.
Don't get me wrong, I love romance.
But it saddens me that romance has become less about love and more about lust. You only have to look at the cover of a "romance" novel to know that.
Whatever happened to the beautiful romance where the brave knight sacrifices himself for the one he loved? Now people applaud explicit stories of men abusing women, and they say that is love? Like love is all about wanting something for yourself, instead of sacrificing of yourself.
That is most definitely not love. That is lust, selfishness and hatred wrapped up into a disturbing package and presented to the world as "romance." Somewhere along the line we lost the idea of what love and romance are.
Romance has become embodied as lust, but is labeled as love. Lust is the opposite of love. Therefore romance cannot be both, it has to be one or the other.
Maybe the reason we have changed what romance is, is because we are confused by thinking that love is lust. I wondered if anyone even knew what love was anymore. So I asked some people what love is to them.
A 20 year old guy told me: "Love is a personal commitment to look out for, or act in the interest of something. To always do what is best for the recipient regardless of possible consequences on yourself. I also think that appreciation is a part of it. People tend not to love what they don't appreciate, but that is not a requirement. It's possible to love someone you don't like, but it's not easy. There are many things that love can be, but it generally boils down to that. It's not an emotion or feeling, though it is emotional sometimes in it's communication."
He is exactly right. Love is not a feeling, but we can feel love.
Romance can be an outward expression of love. But if you don't have real love already, then romance is just a cheap imitation of love. Romance will only lead to hurt, unless its built on a firm foundation of love, trust, and faith.
1 Corinthians 13 tells us exactly what love is: Kind, envieth not; vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up(vs.4.) Beareth all things, believeth all things, endureth all things(vs.7.) never faileth(vs.8.)
We don't have to search any further than that.
If the romance doesn't match up to what God's word tells us love is, then maybe we need to ask ourselves what the point of it is. If it doesn't make me a better person, then it is pointless.
My challenge to you is that next time you read a novel or watch a movie. Ask yourself if this is a picture of love, or lust.
Together lets bring the love back into romance!