What is love?

Posted on October 17, 2016 · Posted in Culture, Ruling Desires, World View


“Love is giving willingly of whatever I have to meet someone’s need.”

I can almost hear someone reacting, “Wait a minute! That might be a partial definition of love. But what about the deep feelings, the driving emotional mood that is also supposed to accompany love. This definition leaves that part out.”

There is an unspoken expectation that is associated with love. This human assumption is that when you love there are huge emotional benefits that make love something good for you. When you say you love someone, your natural self is expecting good things to happen to you because of your “love”. Imagine Christmases, anniversaries, Valentine’s Days where you were the only one doing the sacrificial giving . You spent hours, even days, thinking of just the right gift. Your “love” stopped by the super market, found a gift card from a store you don’t even like and bought some flowers that looked as though they hadn’t been watered in months. You get the point — your “love” carries the expectation of reciprocation.

Your natural self loves the idea of love, and always asks,“What’s in it for me?”

Thankfully, this was not a question that Jesus asked. Instead his concern was, “What’s in it for God?”

Christ redeemed love from the ugliness of your natural desires. In First John there is another 3:16 that tells you what love really is:

“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.”

People with this kind of love don’t ask what is good for them. They will selflessly give their last breath to bring life for those they love.

Your natural love is not a love that can be trusted. You need Christ to redeem who you are and what you do. If you follow Christ love becomes other-centered rather than self-centered.

Thus, the definition at the top of the post, by Ruth Younts, fits squarely the Holy Spirit’s words. “Love is giving willingly of whatever I have to meet someone’s need.”

This definition of love rescues us from ourselves! Because of his death you can love as Christ loved you.

Learn this prayer from Get Wisdom!. Teach it to your children, live it for Christ.

“Lord, you love me perfectly. I want to be like Jesus, but often I’m selfish before I even think about it. I need your grace every day to help me love others. Thank you for helping me to grow and be more like Jesus. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”


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Jay Younts
Jay Younts is the Shepherd Press blogger. He is the author of Everyday Talk and other materials on parenting. He has been teaching and speaking on parenting issues for 30 years. Jay and his wife, Ruth, live in Fountain Inn, South Carolina. He serves as a ruling elder at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He and Ruth have five adult children.