What is love? It depends on who you ask.
The Oxford English dictionary says that it is,
a strong feeling of affection
That’s it? I want to say that’s what’s wrong with us today, but I’ll stop short of that and say that there are way too many marriages that try to survive and fail based on this shall and incomplete definition of love. Too many teenagers are taught that love is just a strong feeling, and when that feeling goes away, so can the object of that feeling – be they husband, wife, boyfriend or girlfriend.
I don’t want to wax too deep on this 2013 edition of Valentine’s Day, but I do believe as Christians we are uniquely qualified to speak and write about love. I’ve always said that I didn’t really know what love was until the Lord Jesus Christ came into my life. At the moment of salvation, I began to understand the depth and complexity of the word that is too often confused with other words.
Passion. Lust. Desire.
So if love isn’t simply a feeling, what else is it then?
To answer that question, it would only be fair to look at the Bible, and it we don’t have to look any further than its most famous verse, John 3:16.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
According to this verse what is love?
- Love is a decision. This verse doesn’t say anything about a feeling, but it does show us that God made a conscious choice. A loving relationship is one of cause and effect. Because God loved the world (or as it is in the verse, “For God so loved…”), he was moved to action. Love didn’t let him sit idly by and do nothing. His love moved him to choose, to help, to prove His love.
- Love is a decision to give. He loved us so much that He gave. He proved his love by giving us something that we needed even though we didn’t always want Him or His gift. Nonetheless, knowing that we as sinners needed to be saved and having the ability to provide that salvation, He chose to give. Similarly, we know that we love others because that love drives us to share. To give.
- Love is a decision to give sacrificially. The funny thing about real love is that it doesn’t just choose to give…whatever. Love doesn’t just give a pair of socks. Love doesn’t re-gift. True love doesn’t offer things just because they were bought on sale for a good deal. Instead, the mark of true love is one that gives not out of abundance, but out of poverty. Did I lose you there? I hope not. You see, I’m not saying that God is poor, yet in a manner of speaking He became that way. You see, there was only one Savior, Jesus. God the Father, could have chosen to keep him (Jesus) for, and to, himself. One might argue that He could have been selfish, but had He been, he wouldn’t have chosen to love us. The two – selfishness and love, are mutually exclusive. One can’t exist when the other is present. Jesus was the only Savior, and if he were going to be given to man, if he were going to be given to sinners, God the Father would no longer have the pleasure of his presence. So, God the Father chose to give His only Son and the only Savior because he loved us.
That, my friend is what love is – a decision to give sacrificially. It can be more, but love, properly defined, will never be anything less.