What is love?

If you ask 100 people what love’s definition is, you might get 100 different answers. We would submit that even within the church, you would get different responses from people. In a world where the word “love” is thrown around like a changing wind, perhaps we should make sure that as Christ followers, we have an accurate view/lens of what it means. 

Culture would have you believe that “love is love” and filled with descriptions of an overhyped emotion like, “the heart wants what the heart wants” or talk about finding “the one”. The concern with the body of Christ is that this view of love is a Greco-Roman definition and not found in scripture. That Greco-Roman definition of love can be summed up comically by a flying baby cherub (named Cupid) slinging arrows at people and they are compelled in their emotion towards another person.

This raw amount of emotion is supposed to drive people towards each other and they will find complete fulfillment with their spouse. The problem is, that emotion is a small fuel tank that burns quickly, leaving the two people wondering if the other isn’t “the one”. With that emotion gone, the reality of the lie sets in and typically those people split up.

Church, if you truly believe this about love, no marriage is safe. People will say, “My heart is leading me towards this person” or “Just follow your heart!” That has to be some of the most foolish advice people give each other.  Jeremiah 17:9 says “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick; who can understand it?” The heart is wicked! Some may say “But I can’t help who I love!” Yes, you can…if you believe that love is not an emotion.

While there are many good definitions of love, one of the best ones we have heard comes from Voddie Baucham- “Biblical love is an act of the will, accompanied by emotion, that leads to action on behalf of its object”. Love is an act of the will, it is an action, a choice. Accompanied by emotion, not void of emotion but not driven by it. On behalf of its object, for someone else’s benefit, for their wellbeing.

It’s not dependent upon the other being worthy of it. That’s one of the biggest hangups with couples today, including Christian marriages where one person says “I’m not going to do my part, if you aren’t doing yours.” That is the polar opposite of Christ’s model of love. Let’s look at 1 John 4:9-10 (ESV)

9) “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.” 

Love is visible, it was revealed. If it’s not visible, it’s not love at all. Love is an act of the will. God sent his only Son. To love someone calls for a decision to act on their behalf. Love is also sacrificial. Our Heavenly Father didn’t tip the leftovers off His plate for us. He gave us His best. If you acknowledge love without embracing sacrifice, you don’t understand love. Men, please hear me with this. If you refuse to embrace or begrudgingly embrace inconvenience for your wife, maturing needs to be done. This also goes for wives as well, but as the leaders of the home, husbands should embrace and model this kind of serving. We are all in progress.

10) “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

Love also serves the unloveable. Biblical love does not require that someone is worthy of it. It’s not about us loving God, but that He loved us. We had enmity against God. We rebelled against the Creator of the universe. And yet, He still placed His love on us. Loving your spouse may not mean they will respond in kind. You are called to love them nevertheless. Lastly, love confronts sin. Only Jesus can atone for our sins, but with a humble and loving spirit, we are compelled to help those caught in it. I’m sure we don’t need any reminding that our spouses have a unique insight into where we need growth and maturing in our walk with the Lord. Love doesn’t ignore sin, it addresses it (in a loving way).  

We heard a quote the other day and it’s a nice thought to chew on regarding Biblical love. 

“Love without sacrifice is like theft.”

We’ve said for a while that today’s wedding celebrations are over the top and extremely extravagant. We should strive to celebrate the sustaining of marriage as much as the start. A couple clawing to find a date night during their busy week with work and kids should be respected and honored.

“Saying vows in the middle of a celebration is one thing, keeping them in the middle of a weary life is another. Keeping our commitments should be celebrated as much as making our commitments.”- Jon Tyson