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What is Love?

July 27, 2013

I’d like to start this by saying that everything begins and ends with LOVE. Therefore, everything begins and ends with GOD, for “God is love” – 1 John 4:8. What does this mean exactly? Well to discover this, we need to look a little closer at the definition of LOVE. Let’s start with the definition most people are familiar with, shall we?

From the Mirriam-Webster online dictionary:

1a (1): strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties <maternal love for a child> (2): attraction based on sexual desire : affection and tenderness felt by lovers (3): affection based on admiration, benevolence, or common interests <love for his old schoolmates>
 b: an assurance of affection <give her my love>
Before we go any further, let’s point out definition a(2) – “attraction based on sexual desire“. I’m highlighting this to help illustrate a point later on that we are confusing LOVE with LUST.
2: warm attachment, enthusiasm, or devotion <love of the sea>
3a: the object of attachment, devotion, or admiration <baseball was his first love>
 b (1): a beloved person : darling —often used as a term of endearment (2)Britishused as an informal term of address [in other words, love has become a casual pet name]

4a: unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another: as (1): the fatherly concern of God for humankind (2): brotherly concern for others 

 b: a person’s adoration of God
We’re gonna skip a few now since I don’t believe in definitions that use the word in the definition OF the word.
6: an amorous episode : love affair [amorous again being LUST not LOVE]
7: the sexual embrace : copulation [again, LUST not LOVE]
All in all, I would rate this definition as 50/50, or so – so. It is a definition of love as we can comprehend it. Too often, though do we equate love with sexual desire [LUST]. You see this a lot in movies, particularly romantic comedies or romantic dramas where a rediculously attractive man “falls in love” with a rediculously attractive woman (which, in a side note here, I believe places unfair expectations on both men and women and completely degrades what the meaning of love truly is). We’ve become convinced that for love to “blossom” there must first be an attraction. And what does it mean to attract?
b: to draw by appeal to natural or excited interest, emotion, or aesthetic sense : entice <attract attention>
Attraction is surface value only, as evident by the definition in appealing to an aesthetic sense. Is love surface value only? Society today would disagree with that, but then why is it so “important” to have an attraction first BEFORE love can develop? Is that accurate? Let’s see what the Bible has to say about love. First from the ESV translation.
4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.
Do you see anything in those verses that indicates that attraction is necessary for love? Let’s look a little deeper into this and replace the word “love” with the word “God“.
God is patient and kind; God does not envy or boast; He is not arrogant 5 or rude. He does not insist on His own way; He is not irritable or resentful; 6 He does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. God bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.1 Corinthians 13:4-7.
As stated in 1 John 4:8, God is love. Let’s take it just a BIT further shall we?
Jesus is patient and kind; Jesus does not envy or boast; He is not arrogant 5 or rude. He does not insist on His own way; He is not irritable or resentful; 6 He does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Jesus bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.1 Corinthians 13:4-7.
Jesus is love too. Jesus was our measuring stick, He was God incarnate on earth, our role model for how to love. So what does this mean? Let’s look at this verse one more time.
Man is patient and kind; Man does not envy or boast; He is not arrogant 5 or rude. He does not insist on His own way; He is not irritable or resentful; 6 He does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Man bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.1 Corinthians 13:4-7.
THIS is what God wants from us. This is how God looks to us to behave! This is what has been perverted by sin and iniquity. And this is what God’s redemptive plan is trying to restore in us. So what is love?
Love is US. We, the people, are love. To love your wife or husband is not accurate, you must BE love to your wife or husband, your brother, your neighbor, your children. Love is not some abstract notion that is undefinable, love is right in front of you when you wake up and see your family, when you go to work and interact with your co-workers, when you go to church and join in fellowship. So remember this it is important, every day not TO love, but to BE love. And finally, one more look at the verses, this time from the amplified Bible translation.

4 Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily.5 It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong].6 It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail.7 Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening]. – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.

Published by Jay McAnally
Copyright © 2013
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4 Comments
  1. Thanks Jay, yes we are children of love and must love accordingly. However its encouraging to know that we all have a long way to go when it comes to love. His love can be perfected in us as we walk in love and crucify the flesh. God bless.

  2. Very good Jay. I personally think it’s your best…so far. “Love can be known only from the actions it prompts. God’s love is seen in the gift of His Son, 1 John 4:9, 10.” [Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words]. If you haven’t already, I suggest this source since it does a good job of referencing the Greek and Hebrew to the English with Scripture verses to back up the words. Just saying. Again great POST.

    Mel Thompson

  3. I’ve never thought of your philosophy that we need to “be love” instead of “to” love. I’m thinking you really have something here. I’m going to meditate on that. I Corinthians 13 is a great, comprehensive treatment of love too: love is patient, love is kind,and is not jealous, etc. That corroborates your exhortation to “be love.” Blessings, Amy

  4. Hey Jay,
    Loved the post! I liked when you said, “you must BE love to your wife or husband, your brother, your neighbor, your children.”
    When I read that, it made me think of love in Greek. Unfortunately In English we have one word for love, so so many people say, “that was love” or “God is love” in empty words or with their own definition, or when one loosely says, “i love you,” but really they mean I eros you…
    God’s love truly is Agape and when we start to let that love IMPACT and TAKE OVER our loves, we learn to LOVE like none other because of the sacrificial love that He has for us, the same love that puts the highest good on top of our feelings and own will. 🙂 🙂 I’m definitely still learning. I’m not yet married, so I’m yet to learn it in that way but God is definitely impacting my life and using me with those I do meet 🙂
    It’s quite interesting!! Thanks for sharing!!
    -Tawana

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