“Love is a warm puppy.”
“Love is a smile.”
“Love is a boo boo kiss.”
Love was a hot topic in the late ’60s and early ’70s—still is—but even as a girl, I was put off by statements like these that showed up on T-shirts, wall hangings and juice glasses. They were just too simplistic.
I’d experienced love to some degree, and although I couldn’t define it, I knew love was more than the warm, fuzzy feeling that often came with it.
“Love is love.”
As an adult, I’m equally put off by this statement. Again, it’s too simplistic, suggesting that all expressions of supposedly positive sentiment or gut-felt desire are somehow equally acceptable and good.
What is love?
According to 1 John 4:8, God is love. He is the definition, not the defined, and anything that doesn’t line up with His will, character and example falls short of the mark.
How does God express love?
First, He sent His Son Jesus to rescue a race of traitors unable to rescue themselves from the consequences of sin, sin being anything that doesn’t line up with His will and character.
As if that weren’t enough, He adopts those who repent of their sin and put their faith in Him for salvation as His very own children, communing with them and perfecting them by His Spirit as they cooperate over time so they can participate in His glory unfettered by guilt, fear or shame.
Wow! Talk about setting the bar high!
So, how are we to express love?
Contrary to popular belief, loving others isn’t about making them feel spiritually comfortable, content and safe as they are, unless they have a biblical reason to feel that way. Loving others is about wanting for them what God wants and made possible for them through Jesus’ death and resurrection. It’s about doing whatever we can in accordance with God’s will and character to point them toward the only One who can ever bring them true comfort, contentment and peace, even when it costs us to do so.
Yes, loving others is about extending grace, mercy and forgiveness, but it’s also about telling the truth as presented in God’s Word, the Bible, and living that truth in faithful obedience so others will see their need for a Savior, accept God’s gift of salvation and become whom they were meant to become, redeemed and whole children of God.
Tenderness is tenderness. Affection is affection. Passion is passion. Lust is lust.
Qualify your feelings and actions how you will, but only that which glorifies God is truly love.