I think we need to understand some things about love. About real, true love. It can be beautiful and exciting — it’s pure, it’s healing, and it’s holy, and we need to make sure we understand it.
Love, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is “a strong or constant affection for a person.” I agree with this definition, but there’s more to be said; there’s more to be done. Love, in the Bible, is put to action:
1 Corinthians 13:4-8a
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.
Love, as defined by society, is only the feeling — the warm feeling of only doing what your heart desires and what wouldn’t emotionally hurt the other person. It’s based on passing emotions, something no one should have to work at. It’s the butterflies-in-your-stomach, jittery, swooning feeling you get when you look at a person you care about. You can’t control it, you don’t want to control it, and it’s the best emotion in the world. Within the right context, these are all very good things! There’s nothing wrong with getting these types of love-feelings.
But real, Biblical love is something more solid, withstanding, and even more beautiful than this. I don’t think I would even classify it as an emotion because it doesn’t depend on feelings to exist. Real love is an action.
It’s accompanied by patience, kindness, humility, selflessness, morality, truth-telling, and it’s strong.
Merriam-Webster’s definition says “constant affection.” Almost anything we do that’s constant requires effort and work. I think this word “constant” aligns perfectly with God’s definition, because love doesn’t give up. Those who truly love are patient and kind, and they don’t give up on a person.
They don’t leave their brothers and sisters in the dirt when they’re struggling because they don’t want to deal with it. They don’t give up on someone who’s isn’t quite grasping the truth; they keep trying to teach because God doesn’t give up on them. They don’t forsake their spouses just because one or both parties have changed since the wedding day.
Real love works. Real love gives. Real love won’t bend to the world’s influence.
Real love isn’t easy — we have to work everyday to be loving, to understand how to love. We have to put the amount of effort specific to the love we’re giving. When we love someone, no matter who it is, we’ll work to show them that. We’ll work within ourselves to really love them, and not just act like it. Giving up isn’t an option — love endures all things; love never fails.
But it doesn’t mean we let sin abound. This means that if we truly love, we will be patient, but disciplinary. We won’t let our brothers and sisters continue in sin because we know what that could mean for their souls and for ours. If we really love, we’ll teach the world about the light and truth of God’s word, and we’ll show them Christ through ourselves. We won’t let God be blasphemed and His word twisted by untruths.
There’s another facet to love: correction.
1 John 4:8
He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
God is love. God is the embodiment of love; He possesses each and every trait listed above. How can we compare God to a passing, fleeting feeling? How can we compare our great and holy Creator, the very one who sustains us and is patient with us each and every time we forsake Him before giving Him our all, to an emotion? We can’t set Him on the same plane as something the world portrays to us as wavering, unsteady, and circumstantial. And if we can’t put Him there, then we can’t put love there, for God is love.
Our parents correct us because they love us. Hopefully our friends correct us because they love us. Because if we were never to receive correction, how would we ever be able to progress?
Correction in the Bible
In each of his letters, Paul begins with a greeting. They usually include a note of thanksgiving for his brethren, emphasis on the good that church is doing, and then he goes on to offer ways in which they can improve to please God. At the end of each letter, after his correction, he bids them farewell, and wishes the grace and love of Christ and God be with them.
We’re given all these letters of firm correction, but we wouldn’t dare say Paul didn’t love his brothers and sisters. Because it’s clear that he did! He even suffered violence and imprisonment trying to teach them what was right.
Priscilla and Aquila (Acts 18) took Apollos, who was actually speaking boldly of the way he understood the Scriptures, aside to explain the word of God to him more accurately; he obliged because he loved God. Philip (Acts 8) stopped to explain the book of Isaiah to the Ethiopian eunuch not because he was prideful or a know-it-all, but because he wanted this man to be part of the Kingdom. All of the apostles and other disciples went from city to city proclaiming God’s word because they loved the people and wanted them to be saved.
Love is going to act upon what is right — on solid, firm truth, not just feelings of affection. Because feelings of affection can lead us down paths that we never dreamed of. We can have these loving feelings toward sin, toward things or people that we aren’t meant to emotionally love, that are opposite of what God has commanded we love. They can drive us into darkness instead of into God’s light because they’re not always the same as the logical truth.
2 John 6
And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it.
Because God loves us, He gave us His word — He gave us this New Covenant to live by. He knows what’s best for our souls, and because He wants us to have a hope of being with Him in eternity, He disciplines us through His word. Everything God does for us, including discipline, is because He loves us. It’s because He wants us to be with Him.
Everything Jesus taught and everything He did while He was on earth was because He loves us. If we want to shine Christ’s light, we should love the way They love, with both God’s mercy and justice in mind.
If we truly love God, we’ll do His will, and we’ll pay attention to all of the truths found in the Bible, not just the ones we like. We won’t base our decisions and our loyalties on feelings. If we truly love people, we’ll treat them the way 1 Corinthians 13 describes real love — with patience, humility, kindness, hope, while bearing their burdens. We’ll walk in truth, show them truth, and proclaim to them truth because these are things that will lead them toward heaven.
// How do you show love to others? What are some ways to do this? Or verses about love you want to share? I’d love input in the comments section. 🙂