Friday, August 20, 2010

What is Love?

Photo Credit: Shanissinha_
I love my wife. I love Snickers candy bars. I love Michigan football. I love God. I love the smell of the air after a rain shower.

This simple word -- love -- is used in so many ways within the English language yet few uses adequately describe its true meaning. Unlike some other languages, we don't have multiple words to describe love. For example, when my daughter claims she loves Justin Bieber, I sincerely hope that it does not mean the same thing as when she says she loves me.

Love is more than a feeling and it's more than a preference for someone or something. We may love food or a certain hobby, but not in the same way we love our family or closest friends. At its deepest level, love is a state of being. It speaks to who we are at our core and represents the character that is within us.

In my opinion, the greatest explanation of love is contained in the book of First Corinthians, chapter 13 in the Bible. Often recited at Christian weddings, this passage gives a glimpse into the kind of love that God has for us. The Apostle Paul challenges followers of Christ that all we do should be motivated by the selfless, sacrificial and unconditional love modeled by Jesus himself:
"If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing.
If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.
Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance...

Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love."

(Taken from the New Living Translation)

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