People talk about love all the time, but never define it. Sure, they have ideas conditioned by the culture, but are those concepts accurate? How many people who talk about it could give a definition of what true love really is?
Love is often thought of as that between two married people, or having sex, or one’s emotions. While these are all part of it, do they define it? For example, is there really love when two people get married because they believe they were meant for each other, but then several years later (or in some cases only months later) they end up divorced because they can no longer stand to be together?
There are different levels of “love.” I am not going into detail here. Suffice it to say that the highest level is unconditional love. This is loving someone for who they are, not waiting for them to become what they are expected to be. I am not talking here about “loving” a drug addict or a child abuser or sexual molester. Those people still need to be loved, but in these cases one may have to separate themselves from them. I am referring here primarily to marriage relationships, people at work, and to interactions in general.
One must also see the difference between liking someone and loving them. Liking is conditioned upon certain factors in his or her personality or beliefs, and is emotion-centered. Loving is an expression of acts of kindness with no conditions attached and is choosing to do so from an act of will. This is the kind of love that Jesus talked about as recorded many times in the New Testament. There are many Bible verses on loving one another. All one has to do is google them.
There are many ways that true unconditional love stemming from an act of willful choice is expressed, but three things that come to mind in a general sense are forgiveness, self-sacrifice, and acceptance. However, in reference to the third item, it does not mean that a person condones what a person is doing, but we do not shun them either. The Christian Church has made a huge mistake in this area. One may not agree with another’s lifestyle, political or moral views, but still can be able to associate and interact with them respectfully.
It is commonly believed that the opposite of love is hate. That, of course, is true. However, the opposite of love can also be indifference or not caring, or as I stated earlier, shunning.
Here are two Bible verses, among dozens, that talk about true love:
“With all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace”(Ephesians 4:2-3).
“Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins” (I Peter 4:8)