What is True Love?
The world says love is about how someone makes them feel or how they feel about someone else, but God says love is about how you behave and treat others. The Church needs to know what real love is for three reasons:
- In order to build unity among the saints.
- Keep friendships, marriages and families together.
- Show an accurate example of Christ to the world.
Christian misconceptions about love
We can’t love like Christ. His love is just something to aspire to, not something you can actually reach.
False. The bible says, “we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us” (Phil 4:13), for God called us to be conformed to the image of Christ (Rom 8:29) and to love one another like he loved us (John 15:12). So these comments usually come from people who don’t want to obey God, who listen to the lies of the devil, or have failed to love because they tried in their own strength. Loving like Jesus is possible because Jesus commanded us to do so.
You have to first love yourself before you can love others.
I hear this often, but when you look at scripture it’s not there. The truth is: most people love themselves already. By nature we’re self centered beings. On the other hand, if someone doesn’t love themselves (they don’t look at themselves as valuable or worthy) then there is a disconnection from God.
In Mark 12:30-31, Jesus said: love God first. If you love God first, you’ll be filled with his love in return, so you won’t have a problem loving your neighbor as it goes on to command. To love yourself first is contrary to the word of God and is self centered which is not an attribute of love (1 Cor 13:5). If a person doesn’t love themselves it’s because they don’t love God first. Loving God rids a person of all esteem issues.
The world’s definition
A deep, tender, ineffable feeling of affection and solicitude toward another person. An intense emotional attachment or feeling for a person, place, or thing. A feeling of intense desire and attraction toward a person with whom one is disposed to make a pair. Romance, sexual passion, sexual intercourse.
God’s definition (1 Cor 13:4-7)
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely. Love does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
After comparing the world’s view against the bible’s:
- Love is not feeling.
- Love is not emotion.
- Love is not attraction.
- Love is not having sex.
- Love is not liking someone.
- Love is moral character.
- Love is Jesus Christ.
Notice how the world’s definition is based on how they feel about someone. This has nothing to do with love at all. Biblical love is moral character: how we act and treat other beings. And we as children of God know that this moral character comes from Jesus Christ (1 John 4:7).
I much prefer someone treating me with kindness, respect, humility and patience rather than relating to me solely on our similarities, mutual benefit or attraction.
This means that times will come when we don’t feel like showing respect, patience, trust and honesty; but we must push pass those feelings and show it anyway. Love is what we do according to the standard of God, not what we feel.
The 5 Love Languages is not love.
Gary Chapman wrote a popular and excellent book called The 5 Love Languages. In it he describes the five different things people in relationships can do to make the other feel loved. The book helps you learn your mate’s love language so you can speak it and have a successful marriage. The languages are:
- Words of Affirmation
- Quality Time
- Receiving Gifts
- Acts of Service
- Physical Touch
First of all, I read this book and I really like it. As a psychologist, Chapman discovered 5 different actions humans receive that make them feel good. I said “feel good”, because that’s all it is. This is not love. These are good things to express to people but not without the foundation of God’s love.
Lust and love
Many women actually believe that the lust of a man is love: his constant stares, his compliments, and his desire to have sex with her. This is not love. It’s simply attraction, and in most cases, lust.
Lust is a terrible thing because it’s the exact opposite of love (which is selfishness). A man in lust is looking to relieve himself at some woman’s expense. He’s looking to quench the thirst in his soul (which can only be fulfilled by God) by using sex. Do not mistaken his desire as love, it’s selfishness.
This is why lust is a sin. Lust for anything is a sin because we have a God that will supply all our needs. To walk in lust is to be disconnected from God and to say that God cannot supply our needs and therefore we must fulfill our needs on our own.
How to determine if it’s really love.
Women can know if a man loves them by lining up that man’s character to the Corinthian passage. They should ask themselves this question: does this man display the attributes of Christ? Many times they will find that this is not the case. These men cannot love because love is a person who embodies the born again believer. Without God, no man can love. However, the men of God love like God because they have God in them (1 John 4:7).
So where does attraction, desire, arousal, passion and sexual intercourse fit in? Are these love? Answer: No. These are simply the natural feelings that come about between human beings for the purpose of procreation in which should only be expressed and enjoyed when a strong foundation of biblical love has been established through a marriage commitment. Until that happens, the participants of these activities can be considered as dogs in heat.
The world says love is about how someone makes them feel, God says love is about how you behave and treat others. And not just that, he gives us specifics like kindness, patience, humility and more.
I’m satisfied with God’s definition of love because it has standards — something I can build a foundation on. The world doesn’t have a standard. And the false church doesn’t follow the standard. This is why love is so confusing and disastrous in this world. Of course people want godly love, but they can’t find it on the horizontal because they don’t understand that it comes from above. As the church of God stands up, the world will be able to find and see the manifestation of God’s love in effect through his people.
The 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 passage names 13 different attributes listed below. Click on each link to learn more about that attribute:
- Love is Patient and suffers long.
- Love is Kind – benevolent, understands and sympathizes.
- Love is Happy about what others have – not envious and jealous.
- Love is Humble – not boastful, disrespectful, proud and arrogant.
- Love is Supportive, Considerate and seeks to helps others – not self-centered.
- Love is Courtesy and Polite – not rude and ill-mannered (using truth recklessly).
- Love is slow to Anger – not easily provoked.
- Love is Forgiving – doesn’t keep a record of wrongs.
- Love is tells the Truth – not telling lies and rejoicing in evil.
- Love is a Covering (covers another’s faults), doesn’t gossip about them.
- Love is Trusting and gives a new start to those who’d sinned in the past.
- Love is Hopes for the best for people rather than the worst.
- Love is loyal Endures all things (marriage till death, persecution, never gives up).
Also: Love doesn’t Control others.
This article is part of the series: Love.
- What is True Love?
- Patience: Good things take time
- What is Kindness?
- Kindness Part 1: Love is Sympathetic
- Kindness Part 2
- Kindness Part 3: Helping others in need
- A Call for Honesty in the Body of Christ
- Love Doesn’t Gossip
- Can Christians Curse?
- The Ugliness of Pride & Arrogance
- The sin of envy: don’t hate, congratulate
- Forgiveness and Healing