What Is Love?
In 1 Corinthians 13, the Apostle Paul says that there is only one stat that ultimately matters in your walk with God - one thing that that truly tells the world who you are, and that is your love (or lack thereof). The real question is, how do I grow in love? What does love look like? What does love do, and what does it not do? What is love?
12.5 Love Feels Good About You
Lots of Christian people are trigger happy to demonize emotions. In other words, they don’t want you to put a whole lot of stock in the way you feel. And look, to a certain degree, I totally understand that. I mean, feelings can change so fast, and they can be affected by just about anything, including (but not limited to) the amount of sleep you get, the state of your thyroid, how comfortable your clothes are and how much fast food you’ve been eating. Emotions can come in unannounced, wreck the whole house and then burn off and leave completely without ever bothering to explain who invited them or where they got the key.
So, as Christians, we don’t want to base our entire walk around the way we feel, but that doesn’t mean emotions aren’t important. We don’t want to steer and navigate every piece of our Christian experience from our heart, but to ignore our hearts altogether would be a grave mistake. After all, God made our hearts and appeals to us on the basis of love. He wants to woo us into a relationship with Him and He wants us to feel that relationship deeply. In fact, almost all of the prayers that Paul writes out in his letters in the New Testament are prayers about the heart - prayers that we would feel the right things more; such as peace, joy, love and hope.
Sometimes Christians say that love is not emotion but an action, and that’s kinda silly. I know it sounds like a really Christian thing to say, and certainly real love that comes from God has all kinds of action in it, but who in the world wants anything to do with a love that doesn’t feel like love? The Apostle Peter says we should “love one another deeply from the heart.” -- anyone who reads that and says love isn’t an emotion needs to stop talking for a few minutes and read it again. Of course love is emotional! Who wants to live in a world where love is simply action without feeling? Do machines love? Love is emotional and it is also active. It’s both, but make sure it’s both and not just one.
In verse 7 of 1 Corinthians 13, Paul says that love “always hopes.” To me, this is where Paul’s definition of love really gets the heart involved. Hope is an emotional word. Hope feels good about something, even if it can’t be seen. The word Paul wrote is also translated 'expectation' and has the idea of crossing your fingers with longing for this thing. We’ve already looked at how love believes all things and rejoices with the truth. In other words, when I love people, I see true things about them. I see God at work in them. This next word, ‘hope’ is taking those ideas deeper. To me, when Paul says, “love always hopes” it’s as though he’s saying, “I see God at work in this person, and what’s more I want to see them that way. I feel love for them. My heart doesn’t want them to fail and fall, but to make it and change. It’s not just that I believe God is going to make your story something awesome someday, but I actually feel that way about you. I want you to make it through.
Romans 8:28 says that we know God is working everything together for our best. Love believes that’s true even when it looks otherwise; but love goes even farther. Love feels that it’s true. Love wants it to be true. Love is pulling for you.