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)