Topic #210: What does love mean to you? We talk about love all the time, but rarely do we sit down and think about what it is, and how our behavior helps us get more or less of the kind of love we desire.
How does platonic love differ from romantic love? How does the love we get from a parent differ from the love we get from a friend? Or a dog? Is love a feeling or a set of behaviors?
I believe that God, as our Creator, is the only one who can truly define love. It is unfortunate that English uses the same word – love – to declare how one feels about people, places, and things. We say, I love that color. I love this or that particular food. I love a fragrance, a city, a rock even. And then we turn around and say I love you to the people who are supposed to be the most important part of our lives. What could we really mean when we use this one word?
Surely love is more than just feelings; but it also more than just behaviors. True love encompasses the whole being of the one who loves – it is bigger than definition, deeper than words, more holy than actions.
But I think the best place to start is with Paul’s list of the outward indication of love, found in 1 Corinthians 13. Here it is as transliterated in The Message.
So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
Love never dies.
All descriptors. Good descriptors. And how often do you and I fail in comparison with even one or two areas, much more in having our lives display every descriptor at all times. Defining love is like defining God, for God is love, and true love only exists in the Presence of God. The best we can do is descriptors, for there is truly nothing else that compares.
We make declarations of love on a daily basis. I like Scott’s observations and questions in today’s topic. How often do we take the time to really think about what we mean when we declare our love for one another or for things? Surely our language needs to evolve in this area – more words with which we can express the many ways we use the word love.