What is love? Have you ever stopped and asked yourself that question? There are certainly a lot of answers floating around in our society. Some of those answers speak with actual voices, and some speak simply with actions.
Sadly, there are plenty of bad notions about love floating around. Let’s think of some things that love is not. Love is not oppressive. Love does not stock, belittle or cut others off from the surrounding world. Nor does love always have to give others whatever they ask, with no sense of discretion. Love is not a fair weather friend. Love is not selfish. Love is not a traitor.
With every passing year I have been exposed to more of the brokenness that anti-love can produce. I have seen people who have been used, abandoned, and even victimized. I’ve read of people who have faced even worse.
Many of us have simply been hurt by what others have said and done. Perhaps we’ve been wounded when fellow human beings have let us down when we were most in need of support. Yet, if we are honest, all of us have also done some anti-loving at some point. I can certainly raise my hand and own that I have been guilty on that account. My own bitterness, pride and other failures have certainly wounded other people.
So if this is what love is not, what is love? Love is not a fancy, nor is it a feeling. We can certainly feel love, but true love goes deeper than what we feel. It is an action and a stance toward another creature.
Love is patient with other people, and love is kind toward them. Love is humble and selfless. Love puts others first. Love is willing to forgive. Loves holds on for the long haul. Love is pure and beautiful.
This is our perfect standard for how we should treat others. People who treat us this way are the ones who are showing us true love. The greatest example of this love that I can ever imagine is a person who is willing to go so far as to die, giving their very life to save someone they love. Believe it or not, someone was actually willing to die to save me once (I wrote more about that in the “about” section of this blog). His example of love toward me is my highest standard of love.
Love is such a glorious comfort in the midst of suffering of any type. It is definitely hard to find true love in this world. Yet, it helps if we know what we are looking for. And it helps if we know how to love other people.