What is love?
An age old question that people have been seeking the answer to for years- some find it- some never do. In a world full of so much hate and misrepresentation it is easy to get lost in what the world says love is. I say this because I was lost– for many years– due to false beliefs of what it meant to love or feel loved– in my case, this had a lot to do with my life experiences and lack of positive reinforcement to set healthy boundaries and concepts of love itself.
So in the spirit of the upcoming “holiday”- Valentine’s Day- I decided to dig deep into the origins of love-where it came from- what it’s suppose to really mean– and how healthy love is shown and received. The month of February will be designated to articles pertaining to love. I write this in hopes it helps someone fill the missing void and redefine their thoughts on the true meaning of Love.
Dictionary.com defines love in the following ways
- passionate affection for another person
- a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection
- sexual passion or desire
- Then notes Christianity: Gods benevolent attitude toward man–mans attitude of reverent devotion towards God.
Wikipedia defines love like this:
Love encompasses a range of strong and positive emotional and mental states from the most sublime virtue or good habit, the deepest interpersonal affection and to the simplest pleasure.
Wikipedia goes on to explain that Ancient Greek philosophers identified five forms of love: essentially, familial love (in Greek, Storge), friendly love or platonic love (Philia), romantic love (Eros), guest love (Xenia) and divine love (Agape). Modern authors have distinguished further varieties of love: unrequited love, empty love, companionate love, consummate love, infatuated love, self-love, and courtly love. Scientific research on emotion has increased significantly over the past two decades. The color wheel theory of love defines three primary, three secondary and nine tertiary love styles, describing them in terms of the traditional color wheel. The triangular theory of love suggests “intimacy, passion and commitment” are core components of love. Love has additional religious or spiritual meaning. This diversity of uses and meanings combined with the complexity of the feelings involved makes love unusually difficult to consistently define, compared to other emotional states.
In the Bible love does not refer to an emotion but an attitude or behavior.
If we follow history back far enough it all begins in the same place–In the beginning was God. He created all the Earth, all things that walk the Earth and swim in the sea, every creeping creature, and He created man and woman in His image.
Love is of God. God authored the concept of love. Without the presence or existence of God there is no love.
1 John 4:7-11 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
As you may already be able to see our society’s view on love vs what love was designed by God to be are two different things. Although they have similarities the biggest difference is the love we learn from society is broken– it can and will fail, it’s usually not an unconditional love, society’s version of love is emotionally charged and can change based on circumstances– where God’s purpose and design for love is based on an attitude or behavior. We love because He first loved us.
Let’s explore more of God’s design for love–a love that is fulfilling, peaceful, joyful, and patient among many other things. God describes love in 1 Corinthians 13 as the greatest gift He has given us.
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.
4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.
11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.
13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Could you imagine a world where we loved ALL people like God tells us to– no matter their background–no matter their sin. I encourage everyone to put love to the test and love like a 1 Corinthians 13 warrior.