If someone asked you what love is, what would you say? Some people would say that love is “the music.” Others would say it is the feeling you get when a couple gets intimate with each other. Still others would say it is intensely liking someone and having warm, fuzzy feelings for them. I would submit that true love has nothing to do with these things.
True love according to the Bible is this:
Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. (John 15:13, NKJV)
In other words, true love involves sacrifice (i.e..in this passage “to lay down one’s life”) for the person being loved. It involves setting aside your own needs and wants for that of the other person.
This quote by evangelist Jefferson Bethke illustrates how true love is:
“People are neighbors to be loved, not commodities to be used.”
In other words, in order to truly love someone you must ascribe value to them that is much greater than any object or commodity could ever be. The problem with how many people love is that it is often only to get something back, whether it be more love or even something as eternally worthless as money or things. In “loving” selfishly in this way, these people are not truly loving at all. When someone uses someone else in this way, the other person only exists to fulfill their needs or desires. When this other person no longer fulfills their needs and/or desires, they either completely abandon this person or fly into a rage towards him or her. Either way, this other person is devalued by the user instead of being ascribed their true worth–most of all being made in God’s image. The user also devalues themselves in the process.
So, the question is: How do we truly love someone by living unselfishly for them? First of all, we should love because God first loved us (1 John 4:10), not just to get something back from someone. Second, we need to see people more from a godly perspective. Note that in John 15:13, it does NOT say, “Greater love has no one than this,than to lay down one’s life for his “Enemies”, or “objects of pleasure,” or even “acquaintances.” It says “friends,” which, according to m-w.com, in one of its definitions means: a favored companion. Also, in Jefferson Bethke’s quote, the word “neighbors” seems to convey a similar meaning, or worth, to others. This means seeing people favorably, with grace, and with unselfish love and care. Who will you love, with true, unselfish love today?