What is Love

Today’s reading:  1 John 4:7-21

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another (1 John 4:7-11).

When I was in junior high, I had Steve Camp’s Fire and Ice cassette tape. I bet I listened to that thing a hundred times.  The five songs on the front side of the tape that is.  I never turned the tape over because the songs on the back weren’t nearly as good (I’m laughing as I write this.  Do you remember waiting forever for a tape to rewind?  What about fastforwarding and trying to guess how long was long enough to get past the song you didn’t like?  Oh how thing have changed.)  As I read today’s scripture, it took me back to Steve Camp’s 1984 duet with Michelle Pillar – Love’s Not a Feeling (the 3rd song on side 1).  The chorus went like this:

Love’s not a feeling, oh, we’ve got to learn
To get past our emotions to the meaning of the Word
Love’s not a feeling we can lose or throw away
Lord, give us the courage to live it every day, oh…


If love isn’t a feeling, what is it? What is the meaning of the word?  What does it mean to “live it every day”?  1 Corinthians chapter 13, often referred to as the love chapter of the Bible, describes love as a choice.  As you read this passage, notice love involves taking an action or abstaining from a self-centered action every time.  It is definitely not passive.

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 (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

Our scripture in 1 John identifies actions God takes to demonstrate his love.

  • God creates – because he loves, God creates people in his image to love others. (Genesis 1:26-27)
  • God cares – because he loves, God sent his son to pay the price for our sins; the sins we’ve committed in the past, those we commit today, and those we will commit in the future. (1 John 4:9)
  • God offers himself – because he loves, God makes a way for us to spend eternity in his presence. (Romans 10:9)

Notice these actions aren’t a once and done kind of thing. They are written in present tense, as God is living and active in our lives today. Now the call to action – because God loves, we ought to love one another. What are ways you can be patient with others, kind to others, rejoice in truth, bear others burdens, believe in others, hope with others and endure with others today? This is love.