Earley: The definition of love

Published 9:41 am Friday, August 16, 2019

We like when things are defined, and we know what we are talking about, measuring and calculating.

Love does not fit into this category.

Have you ever tried to explain love? Ask someone what their definition of love is, and you will see them struggle to find all the right words.

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Ask your spouse to help you define love, and you will learn a lot about each other.

Most Christians will turn to I Corinthians 13 to define love.

Verses 4-8, and 13 have the best summary of a partial definition of love for which one can hope.

We read, “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. Love never fails. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres … And now these three remain faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

The quote doesn’t say anything about erotic or friendship love, tough love or lost love, and the wounds lost love causes.

It doesn’t grasp the sacrificial love Jesus has for us by dying on the cross for our sins and salvation.

Countless verses in the Bible directly and indirectly define many other facets of love I haven’t even mentioned.

I John 4:16 tells us why love is impossible to define, because “God is love.”

God is beyond our complete understanding, for if we could completely understand God, then He wouldn’t be God anymore.

Love is that way too.

One thing that makes love unique among all our emotions is that it can be commanded.

Jesus said in the first and greatest commandment, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”

And the second is like it, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39).

Loving God, others, and ourselves are of great importance to understanding the kind of unconditional love described in I Corinthians 13, and being able to show that love to others.

I have recommended this exercise before, but I have some changes to encourage you to do to learn about how loving you are.

Find some time you can focus on each of the descriptions of love in I Corinthians 13.

Replace the word love with your name, and then write down your answer to how loving you are in relationship to God, others, and yourself.

Write down your response to the three areas of love Jesus commands us to have.

Star those phrases that make you uncomfortable and consider developing a goal in those areas.

For example, (Your name) is patient: with God, with others, with yourself.

Are you patient with God, others and yourself?

As you write down your responses star those, you need to look at more closely.

Then move to (Your name) is kind, etc.

If you’ve done this before I strongly encourage you to do it again, and then compare your answers to your previous replies.

It will give you valuable insight into whether you are becoming more loving or not.

This new exercise is designed to help us remember how much Jesus loves us. Put your name in the blanks below and reflect on what each statement means to you if any of the comments fill you with joy circle them and celebrate them. For example, Jesus’ love for (Your name) is patient. Jesus’ love for (Your name) is kind, etc.

Since we cannot define love entirely because there are too many facets to it, then it would appear that God is more concerned with us being more loving. This journey will be lifelong. I hope you will start a new part of that journey by doing the above exercises. Give yourself some time to go deeper into what love is and who God is.

Do you desire to be a more loving person? Can this be accomplished without a plan? What are the barriers to doing the exercises in this article? Are those exercises unsolvable, or can God help you find a solution? Since God wants you to be more loving, we can go to God and ask Him to knock down all the barriers. I feel safe in affirming that He will do it!

To find out more about Al Earley or read previous columns, see www.lagrangepres.com.