What is LOVE?

What does it mean to really love someone? As I listen to our current Love One series and am being encouraged to love people in my sphere of influence, it makes me wonder what love truly looks like. What does it mean to show the love of Christ so others will want it for themselves?

God is the Creator of love and personifies it in His being. He created us to experience love with Him through a relationship with Jesus Christ and with others. But how can we love someone else if we don’t really know what love is? Let’s see how God defines it in His Word:

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. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

One of the toughest attributes of the type of love Paul describes is that it requires someone else. The hardest part about loving someone else is often the someone else. Am I right? It would be a whole lot easier to love others if others weren’t involved, but that’s not a true picture of what love is.

We can like a lot of things, but love is reserved for something special. Love is something that lasts—something that cannot be destroyed by trials or fire. It is a rock. A fortress. A sturdy, safe shelter in a storm. In the passage above, the Apostle Paul isn’t writing about how love feels. He is writing about what love does.

Love is an action—a continuous movement toward someone else. Love is intentional. Love doesn’t give up on someone. It goes the distance and doesn’t leave when things get messy or frustrating or hard. Love is often an inconvenience. It is a choice to put someone else’s needs in front of your own. Love seeks to be kind instead of seeking to win or be right. In fact, real love actually lays down its life for another.

Love requires a sacrifice and it costs a lot. Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice and showed us how to lay down our lives in love for one another. And only through His love for us, can we truly love one. With Jesus, we can be patient and remain hopeful. We can believe the best in someone else. We can be inconvenienced by someone else’s need. With Jesus, we are actually free to love.

I want to be a bit vulnerable and share with you what I am currently wrestling with as I listen to God’s voice during this sermon series. I have the Scripture above memorized and I intellectually can tell you what love is, but do my actions reflect the love that Paul writes about? Am I kind or patient? Does my love believe the best about others? Do I hang in there with others when it gets tough, too time consuming, too frustrating, or too inconvenient? Am I willing to go the distance for someone else?

My love doesn’t have to be perfect, because His is. I don’t have to feel guilty or beat myself up over not getting this all quite right, because Jesus’ love in me is so much greater than my love could ever be. All I have to do is show up and be willing to extend Jesus’ love to someone else and He will take care of the rest.