1 Corinthians 13:13 (The Message)
“But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.”
When you stop to think about love, what comes to mind?
Affection—admiration—desire—need—attraction—overlooking the faults of others—forgiving—giving to the poor—helping others who are suffering—being a friend—going to battle for someone, etc.
Sophocles said, “Love frees us of all the weight and pain of life.”
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. called love, “…the master key that opens the gates of happiness.”
Playwright Karen Sunde pondered: “To love is to receive a glimpse of heaven.”
Since the instant love touched the hearts of Adam and Eve, mankind has been trying to define exactly what love is. Everyone has their own definition of it. When you search the word love on the web, you get conflicting results:
“An emotion of strong affection and personal attachment.” Yet, is it not true that neither affection nor attachment is required to love people? There are many individuals, over the years, that I have shown love to and I guarantee you that for some, I had no affection nor was I particularly attached to them.
“To have a strong liking for.” Hmmm, I would have to say again, that a requirement like that would preclude me from loving a lot of people I know.
“Passion or desire.” Okaaaaay. Now the field just got narrowed down to one. Uno—as in less than two. Yeah, you guessed it, my wife. I would say that using that criterion would exclude everyone else on the planet.
So, love remains an elusive definition, yet, everyone knows about it.
There are at least eighteen characteristics of love given in the New Testament. Together they help answer the question, “What is love?”
Love is patient.
Love is kind.
Love is not jealous.
Love does not brag.
Love is not arrogant.
Love does not act unbecomingly.
Love does not seek its own.
Love is not provoked.
Love keeps no record of suffered wrongs.
Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness.
Love rejoices with the truth.
Love bears all things.
Love believes all things.
Love hopes all things.
Love endures all things.
Love never fails.
Love does no harm.
Love covers a multitude of sins.
We know one thing for sure—the Word of God focuses on love, teaching us that our goal must be to put love first, and that any spiritual gifts He gives us must operate out of love. Love is a powerful, but not an impersonal force. It is not a vague mist or a dreamy concept. It is not an idea, but an actual entity.
But what is love, really?
1 John 4:16 (NKJV) tells us: “We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.”
God is love.
There you go. It doesn’t say God has love, but that He is love. Don’t mix up the order. Love is not God. God is Love.
Let me show you the difference—it’s huge.
My dog is a girl.
My girl is a dog.
Do you see the difference? Don’t get ‘em mixed up.
There’ll be a war.
God is love.
These three words say so much yet only scratch the surface. Sigh, if only I had another 9000 words—