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January 26, 2012

Love is a hard concept. It’s exalted perhaps more than any other virtue in our culture, but could that many people who say things like, “Couldn’t we just love everyone?” really say what they mean by “love?”

We’re told “Love is feeling.” How does that make it any different from any other feeling. Love is good. No feeling is innately good. Anger can be good, but the good kind of anger is less a feeling than a revolt of the heart. Sorrow can be good, but it’s only good insomuch as it motivates action. Love isn’t a feeling.

“You’ll kn0w it when it comes to you.” That has to be one of the biggest deceptions the world has ever seen. Love doesn’t happen. Nothing just happens, really. Something might happen to you, but it had a cause. Somebody, somewhere, made a choice that caused each thing that happens to happen. And yes, God might be the one responsible. Love is something inside of you that moves outward to the world. Stuff inside of ourselves is implicitly under our own control. “Falling in love” is a lie.

“Love is an action.” This isn’t one heard often, but it’s one I agree with a bit more. What use is love if it doesn’t come outside of one’s self? What use is anything that doesn’t cause some sort of action? But I have to disagree with this one a little bit, too. The Bible says “For God so loved the world that He sent his only begotten Son.” It doesn’t say, “For God so loved the world by sending his only begotten Son.” Real love leads to consistent action, but it isn’t the action itself.

So what is love? I don’t feel adequate to defining something so elusive, but I’ll take a stab at it. Love is forgetting one’s own self. Love is seeing everything that one’s self is and every talent, skill, and accomplishment he possesses and accounting it as nothing. Love is a sacrifice, not just physically, but a sacrifice of the very core of one’s being. This can’t begin to encapsulate love, but it’s a start.

I don’t love, or at least I don’t love well. How often can I say that I truly forget my own self? When I’m approached by another asking something of me, I try to help them, but I’m mentally calculating how little of myself or my possessions I can give while simultaneously seeming generous. Did you catch that? I’m trying to use the appearance of love to bring glory unto myself. That’s the antithesis of what this is all about.

What is love? Love is impossible.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Tim's Dad permalink
    January 27, 2012 10:00 am

    When the Apostle John wrote that “God is love.” He was not being trite, and he was not using hyperbole or a mere metaphor, he was stating a fact in it’s purest essence of truth. Only in God is true love defined, by His very existence and all that He is and does. In those of us fallen, sinful creatures who have been made alive in Christ and sealed with the Holy Spirit, love is Christ living in us and conforming our minds, wills, emotions, desires, words and actions ever more fully into His glorious image!

  2. January 27, 2012 10:21 am

    Your words on love being a sacrifice reminded me of a quote by C.S. Lewis from one of his essays, “Love is not affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained.” [Answers to Questions on Christianity] “for the loved person’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained,” denotes a willingness to give all – to sacrifice – for the sake of the one we love.
    I think that I sometimes have a lot of trouble believing that the greatest expression of love is sacrifice. But Jesus Himself defined love as sacrifice (John 15:13.) And sometimes, when I am reminded of that, the perfection of God’s love hits me between the eyes. God’s willingness to do everything that He can to ensure my ultimate good, as far as He can obtain it…it makes me feel small, undeserving, and so grateful.
    It made me smile so widely when you answered the question “What is love?” with “Love is impossible.” To think, that God would bend from His glory to do the impossible for us? For those who had rejected Him almost at the start of history? And then, that He would give us the ability to learn how to love Him in return? What a way to ensure our ultimate good – what a gift of love!

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