What is Love?

Did you hear the words of the 90’s song start playing in your head? It’s okay if so…I did, too. Lol. Seriously though, would you believe a quick Google search of the definition of love brings up this answer: “What Is LoveLove is a set of emotions and behaviors characterized by intimacy, passion, and commitment. It involves care, closeness, protectiveness, attraction, affection, and trust. Love can vary in intensity and can change over time.” And even Merriam-Webster’s defines love as “The meaning of love is a feeling of strong or constant affection for a person.” Okay so that’s how the world defines love. A feeling, a set of emotions and behaviors. Varies and changes over time. No wonder we don’t have relationships that last these days and provide a sense of stability and security. Let’s contrast this worldly view of “love” with what the unchanging Word of God says about it. 1 Corinthians 13 is known as the “love chapter” of the Bible. It only contains 13 verses, so I will put them all here.

1If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. 3If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it;a but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing. 4Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. 8Prophecy and speaking in unknown languagesb and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! 9Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! 10But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless. 11When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. 12Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity.c All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. 13Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.”

So let’s break down what this says about love. We see from the first few verses that love has to be the motive, the intention of the heart, the decision we make–to put another’s needs above our own. To sacrifice and give of oneself. It is patient and kind. It is not jealous, boastful, proud, or rude. It doesn’t demand its own way, is not irritable, and keeps no record of being wronged (in other words, it doesn’t hold grudges and quickly forgives). It doesn’t rejoice about injustice but rather rejoices when truth wins out. It never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures every circumstance. Love will last forever, according to verse 8. Yes and again in verse 13–all three of these will last forever, in fact–faith, hope, and love, and the greatest one is love.

That certainly sounds different from what was described to me by Google. And what I see when I look around me at all the marriages that have ended (or will end) in divorce. At all the relationships built on feelings and emotions rather than a sacrificial love that puts another’s needs first. Those that refuse to marry for fear of the divorce culture that’s set such a terrible example for them, so they are guarded and separated from the get-go, leery of the idea of a lifelong love that endures all the tests of time and truly will last forever. And this is just talking about the love of a husband/wife, which we know the very institution of is being constantly attacked at every turn today…but what about other relationships? We see so much discord and dysfunction with parents and children as a trickle-down effect and then it just goes out from there. Not many people genuinely know how to give this kind of love. REAL love. Most don’t know how to receive it either.

All of these Scriptures explain beautifully what may seem like to some, a far-fetched idea of what actual love is. In one word, THE Word…love is Jesus. Plain and simple. He is the only perfect One Who has ever, could ever, and will ever show this undefiled, complete, and enduring love. We all fall short in so many ways, and our love will always be imperfect toward others. However, Christ gave us the best example of what true love is, when He gave His very life for us. He showed the world the greatest sacrifice we will ever see when He hung on the cross and died for mankind. He endured all of that for you and me. Because of His great love for the Father and for each one of us. Look back at verses 8-12…this is speaking of the gifts of the Spirit given to the Body of Christ and how they are serving a purpose now but will not last forever. When we see Christ one day, we will understand all things clearly and all of these former things will be useless. But for now, they help us to understand and experience the love of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and allow us to grow in Christlike love toward others.

For those of us who know the love of Christ firsthand through an intimate relationship with Him where we have received His wonderful gift of salvation and forgiveness of sins, it is beyond what our feeble words can fully describe. And it’s something this dark world could certainly use a whole lot more of. It is kind, patient, forgiving, long-suffering, enduring, true, and filled with truth. And usually truth is hard to hear, so people push it away, reject it, run from it, or try to excuse/reason it away. But the most loving thing that any of us could ever experience is this forgiveness of sin (because every single one of us is guilty) and the invitation to come into a personal relationship with Jesus. So I implore you today, to come into a relationship with Him if you haven’t yet. And once you have, draw near to Him each day and spend time in the love letter He’s written to you. To each of us. His offer to love us stands and He will never let us down. I pray you’ve all received this wonderful gift and that all of us will allow the Holy Spirit to reflect His love through us to others who need to experience real love. And we can always work on loving people more and better. It’s an ongoing process until we die or Jesus returns. There again is the hope and faith part. These two will keep us moving forward to that day and when we meet Him face to face, we will embrace our forever Love once and for all. Amen and amen…what a glorious day that will be! I hope and pray to see you all then! To God be the glory forever and ever.

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