Valentine’s Day is just around the corner—the day when love is celebrated. But what is love?
The world’s definition of love:
Love is a loosely-used term in today’s culture. It is fleeting, and based on feelings and emotions. It is conditional, must always be romantic, is often selfish in nature, and self-centered. It can come and go at any time, and does not think in terms of longevity, but lives for the moment.
So what is love really?
Loving someone even though they are flawed. I hear of single people stating they are waiting for the “perfect person” to come along. There are no perfect people. We are all flawed, all human, all broken. Someone will always have little idiosyncrasies that drive us crazy. Habits that are irritating, and mannerisms that are more than an annoyance. But love sees through that. It sees the heart of the person, flaws and all.
Loving someone through the hard times. If you ask people who have been married for a long time, they will tell you that marriage is not all roses and fun times. Illnesses, injuries, job loss, loss of loved ones, money problems— these can crop up at any time. Love stands beside someone through the surgeries, through the job losses, through the grief of loss. It doesn’t give up on someone, but remains steadfast.
Making sacrifices. If you truly love someone, you will make sacrifices that are in your spouse’s best interests—even if it’s difficult.
Not dependent on feelings. Feelings are fickle at best. They come and go, are ever-changing, and can’t be trusted. Deep, abiding love realizes that feelings are undependable, and instead looks to commitment.
Not dependent on what you can get out of it. The Bible tells us to put the needs of others first and to put them above ourselves in Philippians 2:3. Love puts “self” aside and looks to what benefits the other person.
Forgiving. We all make mistakes. We are commanded to forgive others as we have been forgiven, even when it’s difficult. Love does not hold onto grudges.
Primarily evident in actions rather than words. Examples include supporting someone during a difficult time, listening without interruption when they are telling you something that’s weighing on their heart, encouraging their hobby or a dream, etc.
Loving as the Bible commands. Many verses in the Bible teach us how to love others. First John 4:19 says that we are able to love because God first loved us. Ephesians 4:2 tells us to “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” First Corinthians 13:4-5 says “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.”
Sure, these are all nice verses, but how can we love like we are commanded? Only with the Lord’s help. People (including ourselves!) are not always easy to love. Only through dedicated and regular prayer can we love those whom we are called to love. Only as He grows us in grace and tenderness can we love like He does.
Thankfully, He does love us. More than we can fathom. More than we ever know this side of Heaven. And thankfully, God’s love for us isn’t based on feelings. His love is evident through His Son Jesus, today and everyday.