Published on December 9th, 2015 | by Jeff Price


What Is Love – Really?

What is love?

Even before Haddaway released his catchy dance tune asking the very question, “What Is Love”, in 1993 or the band Foreigner pleaded, “I Want To Know What Love Is”  in their chart-topping rock ballad released a decade earlier, that same question had perplexed dreamers, lovers and poets since time immemorial.

The answer to this question has proven far more evasive than one would imagine – especially in today’s instant gratification culture where we are not accustomed to placing much time or effort into anything worthwhile.  Sky-rocketing divorce rates, acceptance of extra-marital unions as commonplace, and a multi-billion dollar porn industry are all testaments to this sad fact.

There is, however, a very good answer to this question, and it is penned by none other than the most prominent love expert of all time – God.

All scripture is God-breathed, 2 Timothy 3:16.  So, when the Apostle Paul composed some principles on the topic of love in his first letter to the church in Corinth, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, he was attaining his insight from the Author of Love, Himself.  Therefore, we can fully trust Paul’s counsel on the subject even though he, himself was not espoused.

Love is patient. In marriage, you are there to help your spouse become a better spouse, a great parent and an all-around better person. Your spouse should do the same for you. But, all this takes time as the two of you grow in maturity together. Is the person you’re in love with patient with you? Are you patient with him or her?

God is certainly patient with us. He has afforded his creation more than ample time to mature and grow in Him – and thankfully so. This world is corrupt. We, as individuals, are corrupt and full of sin. Yet, God patiently waits for each one of us to come to the knowledge of Him and give our lives over to His direction and tuition.

Love is kind.  Your true love won’t be thoughtful and compassionate all of the time. We are only human, after all. But if he or she truly loves you, that person will find joy in bringing you joy. Does the love of your life do kind things for you, say kind words, and make you feel good about yourself regularly? Do you do the same for him or her?

God’s kindness is beyond measure, Psalm 118:1, Psalm 31:19. You can indeed be certain that He will be compassionate with you ALL of the time. Granted, at times it may not seem that way, but God works all things for the good of those who love him, and who have been called according to his purpose, Romans 8:28.  And lest we forget, there was that whole sacrificing of His Son for our sins thing as well, Romans 5:8.

Love does not envy.  So, each and every success in your life should bring your love as much joy as it does for you – not resentment or jealousy. And you should feel the same. Do you have this in your relationship?

God detests envy. Satan, being envious of God, eventually brought turmoil to His creation and sin to the world, Revelation 12:7-9, Isaiah 14:12-14, Genesis 3:1-7. It’s no wonder God tells us, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves”, Philippians 2:3 , and “A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot”, Proverbs 14:30.

Love is not boastful.  Pride has no place in a relationship. Once married, the two of you will be as “one flesh”, Genesis 2:24, leaving no room for either of you to be self-absorbed or boastful in any way. Does your relationship make you feel as if you are one with your partner?

God is not boastful either – even though He has every right to be. He lets His own wisdom, strength creativity and love boast for him.  God warns against boasting, James 4:16, Jeremiah 9:23, Psalm 75:5, unless you are boasting in the Lord, 1Corinthians 1:31. God is love, 1John 4:8, and if you find no boastfulness in God, neither should you find it in your own relationship.

Love is not arrogant. There is no superior to answer to in a love relationship. While it’s true that God intends for the man to take ultimate responsibility for the decisions and welfare of the family, the wife is not a subordinate.  If you are truly in love, neither will look down on the other for any reason. Does your true love show compassion or do they show condescension? What about yourself?

Likewise, God is not an arrogant God. He knows and understands us; our weaknesses and shortcomings, our struggles with temptations and our sin. Yet, He does not look down on us with disdain. Far from condescension, God looks upon us with compassion and sympathy and has gone to great lengths to “make a wretch His treasure”, as the hymn goes.

Love is not rude.  Courtesy and politeness will not always be the norm. As I’ve said before, we are only human. But if you truly love one another, courtesy and politeness will be the rule more than the exception. Does your love treat you with consideration and respect or does he or she deliberately do things or say things to hurt you?  Do you show the same disrespect?

In the same way, God shows His love for us through His consideration of us. We have given God every reason in the world to despise us, both individually and collectively. Yet He shows us respect and consideration through his patience and kindness toward us and of course the willingness to sacrifice His Son on our behalf. God has never been disrespectful to us!

Love does not insist on its own way.  Love is a bond that makes you want what’s best for the BOTH of you.  Are you with someone who just has to have things their way all the time? Could that person be you?

An all-powerful God could certainly insist on having things His way. But we see many instances where God allows freedom of choice. For instance, it stands to reason that God, being all-knowing, 1 John 3:19, Job 37:16, Proverbs 5:21, knew Satan would choose to oppose Him. God also knew Adam and Eve would disobey Him. He knows each and every one of us will choose one sin or another over following Him and we will do it daily. Yet, He does not force salvation upon us. It is a gift freely given with no recompense required because He sent His Son as a remuneration. This selfless, compassionate attitude should be prevalent in our own loving relationships as well.

Love is not irritable or resentful.  Of course, you can expect your share of arguing with your mate from time to time, but a mark of a loving relationship is that arguments are few, and far between, handled swiftly and fairly, and never dwelt upon afterwards.

Is God resentful? With all the horrors we inflict on one another, with all the destruction we have wreaked upon His creation, with the fact that His Son had to shed His innocent blood for the sake of a lawless hoard of wretches, has God shown any resentment toward us? On the contrary, He has shown us grace, sacrifice and forgiveness. Our personal relationships would do well to mirror this.

Love thrives on truth. There is no room in a truly loving relationship for any kind of deceit at all.  Of course, being flawed as we are, from time to time even the strongest relationships suffer deceit.  It’s the magnitude and frequency of the deceit that you should be wary of.  If one is in love, he or she is too worried about how deception and wrongdoing will hurt the other person to even consider being false-hearted.

God is truth, 1 John 5:20, John 1:14, John 14:6. In Him there is no deceit. We can trust what He does, we can trust what He says and we can trust that He has our best interest in mind. Wouldn’t we all like to have a relationship where there is never any reason to worry that the one you have given your heart to will deceive you in any way? How much stress in marriages could be alleviated if the relationship thrived on truth?

Love bears all things.  Can you say with complete certainty that your mate will stay by your side through thick and thin, in sickness and in health, in times of feast and famine, keeping you the center of their life till death separates you? Can you say that you would the same for the one you love?  Dear reader, the answer here has to be an unequivocal “YES!” Because true love endures all things to the very end.

What has God endured for us? He has been patient, He has been kind, He has shown us mercy, He has not imposed His will upon us, He has not been resentful toward us, and through it all He has shown us the true meaning of love, John 3:16.

We stand in awe of the perfect picture of love that God has created for us. It is a masterpiece painted on the canvas of our hearts and it’s message will never fade. That is, that love – true love, is far too precious and far too rare for us to be wasting our time with cheap imitations.  Let’s measure the character of our relationship against the paradigm for love that God has given us in 1 Corinthians 13 and let’s resolve to set our standards for our relationships high because we are deeply loved by none other than the Creator, Himself and love is worth the effort and the wait.

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