Love Defined

In today’s world, the term ‘love’ is overused. It seems to have replaced the word ‘like’ on many levels. Whether it be a result of modern technology or the speed in which we travel daily, we want things and we want them now. We cannot wait for the thing we crave in the midst of a moment; if we are forced to wait, we become frustrated, angry, and–in some cases–violent. If the thing we crave is limited and several others want it, we boast upon receiving it because being the center of attention is apparently worth it, even if it costs a friendship. In our strife to go and gain faster, quicker the things life has to offer, we seem to skip right over the word ‘like’ and instantly label our latest fascination with ‘love’.

But that isn’t what love is about…

There are some who know these words well, but I think it is always good to review them so that we may recall with good clarity what love truly means and what it truly means to be loved. Shall we begin?

“Love is patient, love is kind…”

To be patient towards someone you love is to be willing to listen to them when they need an ear. It is to wait for them without complaint or frustration to get home so that you can share a warm meal together. It’s picking up when you see they’re calling no matter what–even if you’re so busy at work, you can’t really stop–because we never know when a shared word will be our last. To be kind is to be understanding when your best friend has to cancel coffee a fifth time because her kid came home sick. It’s holding open the door or carrying a bag for a stranger because you don’t know how their day has gone and you might be able to make it better. It’s smiling and wishing someone a good day even when they’re rude to you because they might have given up on people caring about them in general.

“…It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud…”

Envy is wanting what someone else has: the spouse of your best friend, the job of your neighbor, the car of your sibling, the land of the farmer across the street, that rare book by your favorite author your co-worker owns, etc. Boastfulness and pride go hand in hand. Pride encourages the riding of high horses and boastfulness is how you get into the saddle (probably the closest I’ll get to a western genre/cowboy reference). To sit on a high horse is to put others, in your mind, beneath you and it can get quite lonely up there. These three things can destroy the relationships around you, which is the opposite of what love can do.

“…It does not dishonor others…”

To dishonor is to ruin reputation. In all honesty, I have a romantic view of the 50s, where chivalry and class seemed to make it’s final, popular stand in our timeline. Although I was born in the early 90s, the 50s always fascinated me. The movies and TV shows seemed to give the air of an honorable time period. People were honest in a sense where, if one noticed one was not charged for an item in one’s bag, one would turn around and re-enter the store to pay what was due instead of continuing about one’s business. It was a time when one could trust one’s neighbors enough that one’s children could ride up and down the streets or all over town without worry. If one forgot a wallet at home, one could charge to a tab and pay it on payday without argument. In that time, if someone was dishonorable, everyone in several blocks knew of it because a dishonorable person stuck out like a sore thumb. If we are to be loving to one another, we need to avoid what can ruin our or others’ reputation.

“…it is not self-seeking…”

I hope this is still easily explained even in today’s world. To self-seek is to take, but never give. It is tiring for us to be around others who constantly take, take, take. The world labels such people as moochers; they only see people as opportunities to get what they want. Such an existence is more lonely than that of the high horse in some aspects, mainly that of the financial moocher. There are some who are emotional self-seekers who befriend or have relationships with others because they need someone to fall on when things get tough, but never let anyone fall on them. We are to be able to lean on one another in order to have a healthy relationship.

“…it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs…”

Anger is like fire, it has about two good uses but everything else about it leads to destruction. Fire is good for light and warmth. Anger is good to defend those who cannot speak up for themselves and motivate someone to do what is right when faced with what is wrong. If anger is not being used for either of these two then it will only destroy what it touches. Keeping records of wrongs is the same; grudges keep the anger burning but the one it burns the most is you. Be wise when the spark threatens to become a flame inside. If anger appears for selfish reasons, walk away from the situation and do calming exercises to snuff it out. And never fight anger with anger, you’ll only get into a screaming match. Fire fought with fire turns everything into ash, but fire fought with water brings peace and relief.

“…Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth…”

Love, in it’s true form, is light and evil is darkness. They oppose one another. We have such a murky view of what love is in today’s world because we overuse the term or we use it interchangeably with lust. Yet, there is difference between love and lust. When love grows it becomes something beautiful like compassion, kindness, and care. When lust grows it can become something ugly like adultery, disease, and addiction. Love is also truthful, even when the truth hurts. I’m a blunt person; I don’t like beating around the bush because that seems like a waste of time when I can just hit the nail on the head. However, being such a self-critic, I thought that to be one of my flaws. Thankfully, my friends told me it’s the opposite, because they would rather hear the truth then hear what they want to hear. Truth can set us free and provides healing. If we truly love someone, would we not want them free and healed?

“…It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres…”

Parents and guardians protect their children. Children trust their elders. Hope brings honor because of God’s love. Perseverance–or endurance–breeds character, which brings hope. As Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13:13 to the church of Corinth, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love”. We are connected to one another in several ways, one of which is having life in this world. I believe our lives would be a lot easier if we all went back to the basics of what true love is and tried to incorporate it into our lives.

“…Love never fails.”

1 Corinthians 13:4-8a

Love is here to stay whether we try to eclipse it out of our lives or not. The beauty of love is that it was there before all things, even time, and it will always be here. It is eternal and darkness cannot defeat it. How do I know? Because scripture told me so.

“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

1 John 4:8

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

Genesis 1:1

“As for you, see that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. And this is what he promised us – eternal life.”

1 John 2:24-25

“In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

John 1:4-5

In closing, I’d like to share a story I once read concerning the Corinthians verses above. A girl was having issues with her boyfriend and she went to her father for advice. He listened to her story and opened up his Bible to those verses in 1 Corinthians. He told her to read them. Once she was finished, he told her to replace ‘love’ with her boyfriend’s name. If he loved her like she thought he did, his name would fit well into the verses. She did as instructed and realized he failed most of them. If we truly love someone, we will try our best to show most of these terms which define love itself. To be around someone who doesn’t fit most of these is not to be loved by them. Thankfully, God fits them all.

“We love because he first loved us.

“And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.”

1 John 4:19 & 21

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