We all agree or believe that love is a good, required and a sought-out thing in every life. However, what we might not all readily agree on is the definition of love i.e. “what love is”. Is love the warm touchy-feely feeling a person has when he is with a familiar person? Is love on all fours as depicted by the numerous Hollywood Actors in their films and real live scenarios? Can the greatest love be “ to love yourself”? According to the Bible, love is caring in action. Love is not what we feel, or think, or what we say, but more of what we do.
The true meaning of love, as defined in the Bible, is far way-off from what love is portrayed to be in this generation. Love is grossly corrupted in the common usage of our language, culture, relationship and the society. Most often, love is confused with infatuation and lust - the instantaneous high feeling one gets when one "falls in love." Meanwhile, this kind of "love" is something that is transient, temporal, short-lived, and unless replaced by genuine love, results in despair, disappointment, disillusion, divorce, hatred, murder, abandoned relationships etc.
The Bible indicates that love is from God and that "God is love." Love is one of the primary characteristics of God. Likewise, God has endowed us with the capacity for love and to love, because we are created in His image. This capacity for love is one of the reasons that validate the fact that we are created in the image of God.
The Greek language uses two different words to describe and define love. The most commonly used Greek word translated "love" in the New Testament is "agape." This love is represented by God's love for us. It is a non-partial, sacrificial love probably best exemplified by God's provision for our rebellion: "For God so loved (agape) the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life." - John 3:16. The gift of God's son as a provision for sin was given to all humans, regardless of who we are. God's love is unconditional.
In contrast, our love is usually conditional and based upon how other people behave toward us. This kind of love is based upon familiarity and direct interaction. The Greek word "phileo" defines this kind of love, often translated "brotherly love." Phileo is a soulish (connected through our emotions) kind of love. Agape love requires a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, since the non-regenerated soul has no capacity to love unconditionally. Agape love gives and sacrifices, expecting nothing back in return.
A famous biblical chapter on love has this narration: “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child; I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” -1 Corinthians 13:1-13
Herein stated is the description of agape love. It is described as being patient, kind, truthful, unselfish, trusting, believing, hopeful, and enduring. It is not jealous, boastful, arrogant, rude, selfish, or angry. True love never fails. The description perfectly fits God's love toward us, and should be the way we love one another. The Bible says that this unconditional love is more important than everything else. Love is eternal and the basis of eternal life. When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus said, “thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, this is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets”.
To a very large extent, a normal person’s desire will be to express love as defined in the Bible. However, wanting to do so and attempting to do so in the power of one’s will, is guaranteed to fail. This kind of love is only possible by relying on the power of God, through faith in Jesus Christ. Even if you are a Christian, you will not succeed if you do not abide in Christ. May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ, amen.