How do you define love?

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The Word of God tells us what love is and what it is not. We often don’t realize that our personal definitions and the definition from scripture don’t line up. We may be able to quote the love chapter (1 Corinthians 13), but still don’t realize all the clauses that we have added to our personal-needs recipe for love. Here are some humanly-wrapped love packages:

  • If you loved me, you would do it my way.
  • Love means remembering my birthday with dinner and flowers.
  • Love means a meal on the table when I get home after a long day at work.
  • Love means cookies and milk.
  • Watch me! Watch me! Look at me!
  • Love is having a theme song, like: “Hold my hand, and I’ll kiss you. Tomorrow I’ll miss you. Remember, I’ll always be true. And then while I’m away, I’ll write home every day, and send all my loving to you.” (“All My Loving,” by Jim Sturgess, sung by The Beatles)
  • Love is doing something without me having to ask you to do it.
  • Love is quality time where your attention is fully on me.

When we look for love as we have learned to define it through our experiences and preferences—the wrapped box with the lovely bow—we are missing the gift that is inside. We are giving and accepting the wrappings and the box and focusing on the pretty cellophane around the gift instead of what love really is. We make love infinitely smaller.

What is proper love? God designed our spirits to need love, and it comes to us in many forms: touch, hugs, comfort, purpose, power, well-being, acceptance, . . . being valued, heard, understood, etc. These are basic human needs. God created us needy so that He could fill our needs. And with our hearts full of gratitude for his love, we will respond with softened hearts to one another.

Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.
John 13:34-35 (MSG)

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