Thursday, August 4, 2011

What is Love?

The American culture believes that love* is a variable mix of infatuation, romance, physical intimacy, preference, altruism, and/or warm friendship.

Everyone may experience American cultural love, but the American understanding of love is totally misleading for the Christian when they think God means American ‘love’, when actually God means something entirely different.

For example: God says, “Love your enemies.” Matthew 5:44 ESV

It is absurd to think that God wants you to be infatuated with your enemy. Nor does he expect us to be romantic and physically intimate with our enemy. How can we think God wants us to prefer our enemy?

The American culture will not change their usage of ‘love’, but the Christian can change and understand what God says and then understand what God expects and what He will bless.

God gives us a definition of love that is quite different than what our culture believes.

The Bible says, “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.           1 Corinthians 13:4-8a ESV

It is possible to sincerely love our enemy, as God directs, once we understand what God means. All of our words and thoughts and actions toward our enemy can be loving when we are willing to love them the way God loves them.

Think about it, the implications are vast.

*When I use the word love on this blog I mean the definition of the Greek word ‘agape’. When I want to use the meaning of ‘phileo’, I will make it plain.


  1. I "love" this post. :) What does it say about us if we only love those who will, or can return our love? Just gotta keep on "practicing" it as Paul says. that's why we have to practice it, it's sometimes quite hard to do. selahV

  2. Walking was hard at first, but we master it over time and end up running.

    I think God is most willing to help us do what He considers most important.

  3. I totally agree, Jerry. Through Him all things are possible, we can do anything He calls us to do. I've had people tell me they can't love certain people and I say, you don't have to love them like you love your husband, your children, or even your best friend. God wants you to practice the love He gives you and treat others with love. For me, I've found the more I pray for others that rub me the wrong way, the more I change. In time, He gives me a heart-love in His grace. does that make sense? It begins with obedience, and ends with faith to continue in grace and mercy.

  4. Aloha Hariette,

    What you describe is my experience also. Thank you for the reminder that our prayer for others who vex us is an inherent part of our receiving God's power to love them sincerely, with all our being.

    And while we are praying, and God is giving us the grace he wants us to have at any given moment, we can still choose to be patient, and kind, and polite.

    God defines 'love' with a specific set of spiritual values that can be practiced until they become the habit we call 'virtue'.


  5. I think you are a pretty smart dude. :) It's what I counsel folks all the time who can't let go of a hurt and then let that hurt turn to bitterness and then that bitterness poisons every relationship they have until they let go of the grudge. Then God releases them from the shackles of unforgiveness within. selahV

  6. Brilliant lexicology! I love it when people juxtapose biblical meanings against the world's meanings and demonstrate how the world has it wrong. :D