What is Love anyway? The dictionary offers it as “a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another.” I would agree with that statement. In fact it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside just thinking about it. I don’t think anyone would disagree but it leads me to wonder, how is love measured?
Ask any Jr high or high school student if they’ve ever been in love and I bet 99% of them will answer with a resounding yes. I would have. I tagged every conversation with my Jr High sweetheart with, “I Love you!” I’m 25 now and I’m confident I’ve never been in love and I’m certain I don’t even have a real understanding of what love is. When two people are attracted and have that “tender, passionate affection” for one another, when do they decide that it’s love? I venture to argue that more often than not it’s lust rather than love, especially at younger ages.
How many of you married couples reading this would say that your love for one another has grown since you first got married? I know all the couples I admire and respect would offer that. That very notion leads me to believe the ecstatic, euphoric, “in love” feeling we get is really no more than lust, which is defined as “intense sexual desire or appetite.”
Guys, ever been around a girl you couldn’t help but put your arms around? Remember fighting the urge (or maybe you embraced it) to kiss that girl the first time you met? I know those feelings all to well and when they come for complete strangers, my assumptions are correct that my attraction is lust and certainly not love. (My female readers are probably dismayed with disgust right now and in my opinion, that proves the male and female perspectives on attraction and sex in general are very different.)
This entire love/lust controversy leads me to believe that perhaps our definition of love is in fact skewed. Feelings and affections come into play, which I don’t deny, but when relationships fail every day with one or both parties declaring “I thought they loved me” evidently our feelings lied to us.
I personally think DC Talk (Christian hip hop band from the 90’s) said it best in their song “Love is a verb.” As a definition of love, the Bible offers “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).
In my simple, rather uneducated mind, this verse is saying that the greatest expression of love is for a person to lay down their life for their friends. That picture is further drawn in Ephesians 5 where it talks about husbands loving their wives “as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” (Eph 5:25)
No level of warm feelings, affection or passion can replace that the greatest expression of love is self-sacrifice. If you disagree with that statement, the next time someone pulls a gun on you, if I’m anywhere nearby, I will gladly stand to the side and say warm, affirming things to make you FEEL really good inside, but when they pull the trigger, I won’t jump in front of the bullet.
That thought is comical but it illustrates a point and based on how our culture, even the dictionary defines love, I would say we are terribly mislead. Love is indeed an action and the Bible (whether you consider it a credible source or not) offers much insight into answering the question of what love really is.
Love is: Patient. Kind. Protective. Trusting. Hopeful. Not self seeking. Not envious. Not proud. And the list goes on. The very essence of love is other oriented and all too often, we boast or declare our love for someone because of how they make us feel. When we base our knowledge of love on feelings or emotions we are usually experiencing lust rather than love. True love cares about the needs of another over the needs of oneself. True love says, what you need over what I need. True love ultimately in laying down ones life so another can live.