“Baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me no more.” Ok, that was my lame attempt at a throwback reference to Night at the Roxbury. But seriously, what is love? Did you know that the question “What is Love?” was the number one Googled question in 2011? Crazy, right? Out of all of the questions that could possibly be Googled in any given year, this question was number one! So here we are, wondering “what is love?” I’m asking too and yet, I know the answer, but do I really know the answer?
Scripture is full of the word love. In fact, depending on what Bible you read, the word love appears approximately 500 times. (Check out this cool chart breaking it down) The simple church answer to this question is obvious, God. God is love, but what is love in the way that we express ourselves to others? How do we show love? How do we know love? What exactly is love? Is it a feeling? An emotion? An action? God makes it very clear to us in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7:
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
How many times have you seen this verse and never gave a second thought? I’m pretty sure this is the first verse you learn when you’re a new Christian and it’s a verse we read over and over and yet, it wasn’t until recently that God really showed me what this verse was about. I have a wonderful mentor in my life and she recently told me that when I am frustrated or feeling defeated or feeling impatient to think about this verse, but instead of using the word love, replace it with my name or with I.
I am patient, I am kind, I do not envy, I do not boast, I am not proud. I do not dishonor others, I am not self-seeking, I am not easily angered, I keep no records of wrongs. I do not delight in evil, but I rejoice with the truth. I always protect, I always trust, I always hope and I always persevere.
Wow…I was speechless when she told me to do that. I’m still speechless sometimes when I think about this. This was a total game changer and completely, 100% convicting. How can I truly say I love someone when I am rarely patient when I need to be, I struggle with kindness, I envy “the easy life” that others have, I boast about my accomplishments, I’m proud when I do something that I think deserves attention. I dishonor others when I gossip or when I overstep my boundaries. I’m completely self-seeking, especially when it comes to my household responsibilities. I’m easily angered, especially when I’m tired, and I totally keep records of wrongs. Honestly, I’m the Library of Congress when it comes to keeping records of wrongs. I could tell you everything bad anyone has ever done to me over the past 30 years of my life. Seriously, it really annoys those around me because I can recall just about every wrong thing that they have done to me. It’s terrible. How can I say I love, when I have never truly applied this verse to my life?
So, people of the Internet, you ask, “What is love?” Love is God and God is love and love is being patient and kind and all of the above. Love is having a merciful God who showers us in grace and understands that we are not perfect, we are sinners and that we can’t quite figure this love thing out even when it’s right in front of us.
This week, I challenge you to replace the word love with your own name and remind yourself that when you love those around you, you should be practicing 1 Corinthians 13. I am so thankful that my mentor told me to do this. It was so life changing for me and I hope that you get as much out of it as I did.
Are you like me and you struggle to express love in the way God asks us to? Is God tugging at your heart to get you to love those around you unconditionally, the way he loves us? My prayer for all of us is that we can truly love those around us and that God will help us have a clear understanding of What love really is!