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.