It was Mother Teresa who said “We have been created for greater things. Not just to be a number in the world, not just to go for diplomas and degrees, this work and that work. We have been created in order to love and to be loved.”
No, ‘love’ is not a new concept; in fact it’s arguably overused, abused and misunderstood more often than not. So, what is the definition of love? Is love an emotion or an action? Does it ebb in and out with the flow of our feelings or does it require something be done in order to give and receive? When asked these questions many people may recall the popular wedding ceremony scriptures from the book of 1 Corinthians in the Bible. It is here, in Chapter 13, verse 4 we find love described in this way:
“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”
In looking to these attributes of love, one can then reason, that in order to give this kind of unconditional love, a person must first find it within themselves. To learn to love ourselves unconditionally, despite what may be going on at any time, is one of life’s greatest challenges. By God’s amazing grace, however, we’ve been given a perfect example, someone who walked on this earth, who knew no sin but gave his life on behalf of our sins so that we could be redeemed, purified and made new; His name, and our perfect example, is Jesus. His love, given unconditionally, is the kind of love we seek both within ourselves and in other people. His love is absolute, it is eternal and it is the greatest, and His word tells us that we can all have this kind of love here on earth if we simply ask, seek and receive.
Every person in this world needs love – love is our identity. So, to answer the question – what is the definition of love – perhaps there is no specific universal definition that can be applied. Rather, perhaps it’s a combination of all of the attributes; perhaps it’s neither an emotion nor action. Perhaps it simply is something we seek within ourselves and once found we allow its expression to become outwardly evident. Consider also this, when one walks in the presence of unconditional love, the fruits of the Spirit manifest, and the person, both inwardly and outwardly expresses: joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, goodness and self control. As you carry out your day, look around you and find the person who seems to possess these fruits – that person may be just the one you were meant to befriend so that you too can define love for yourself.