What Is Love?
Updated: Oct 21, 2021
Love. It's an easy word to say. We've all heard it before - we have the ability say we love all kinds of things. I love the season of fall. I love the smell of the beach. I love listening to and watching videos of my son when he was first learning to talk, and he had that toddler language that isn't quite right, but it's adorable. I LOVE my momma’s spaghetti (because it's hands down the best spaghetti and you cannot convince me otherwise).
But what do we mean when we say I love you. Not an inanimate object. Not a situation or thing that makes me happy. Another human being. An image bearer of God. What do we mean when we say I love you, A PERSON?
When I was growing up my mom and I used to have this playful argument over
who loved who more. I knew how much I loved my mom and I thought – there’s
no way that she can love me more. But as I became a mom, and I lived life with
my toddler there was a point where I came to realize I was dead wrong.
She loved me infinitely more than I could have ever understood. And as the years of my mom-hood go on I find that to be more and more true.
I once heard a definition of love that I think really captures something beautiful:
Love is when someone says, “I willingly sacrifice myself for the betterment of you.”
And as any mom could tell you... that is spot on. Like #momlife is really just short for #DayInAndDayOutIWillinglySacrificeMyselfForTheBettermentOfYou
I mean, let's face it though, there’s something about that that just doesn’t roll off the tongue. So... #momlife it is. But that’s what love is.
Willingly sacrificing for the betterment of another.
And while we as moms live that out on a daily basis, there’s someone who fully
encapsulates this even better.
1 John 4:16 tells us God is love. It’s not just that God loved us or that He continues
to love us. His very being – who He is…is love. His very nature is “willingly
sacrificing Himself for the betterment of another” and that another is us. That’s
who Christ is.
He is fully God and He willingly became fully man in order to reconcile us back to the Father.
When we had nothing to offer.
When we were utterly helpless.
When we were selfishly going our own way.
He willingly sacrificed Himself to redeem us. That is love.
That’s who God is.
In Romans 8:38-39, the apostle Paul tells us:
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death, nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries for tomorrow – not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below – indeed nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Why does Paul say this? How is he so convinced that nothing can separate us from God’s love? Because He understood who God is. God is love. When Christ died for us – when He redeemed us, we were adopted into His family and that went beyond just a simple payment exchange. That was a fundamental change of who we are. We are now His.
Ephesians 1:13-14 tells us that when we believe in Christ, He identifies us as His
own by giving us the Holy Spirit.
Romans 8:15-16 tells us that we received God’s spirit when He adopted us as His own children and His spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are his children.
In other words, when Christ died for us – when He redeemed us, when we were adopted into God’s family…God literally willingly gave Himself to us. Over and over, in many different ways, He willingly sacrificed Himself for our betterment. He willingly gave us His son in order that we know Him, that we may have relationship with Him. He willingly was ridiculed, rejected, despised so that we could know Him. He willingly gave us His life in our place to pay the price for our sin. And when we believe in Him, He willingly gives us His Spirit so that we may be identified as His.
So when Paul says, He is convinced that nothing can separate us from the love of God…he says this because he’s convinced of who God is:
God is love.
And God has given Himself to us. Nothing can separate us from God’s love because God Himself has said you are mine – want proof? Here I am. I’ve given myself to you over and over and over. Count the ways. Check it and see: I am Immanuel.
Immanuel wasn’t just a name we are supposed to remember at Christmas time. It’s a name we are to remember over and over every day. God is with us. God’s spirit literally is with us personally every single day. This fundamentally changes us.
Today, I hope that you are encouraged by the life changing reality that we belong to the God who is love...the God who is with us.