What is true love? What is the importance of love? What are the uses of love? How can we say that we are really in love?
Definition of Love
In the first Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians, referred to as the First Corinthians, which is the seventh book of the New Testament, love is defined comprehensively. The following are definitions of love from the Holy Scriptures extracted from different versions of the Bible (for your further understanding of the verse):
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (New King James Version)
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (New International Version)
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (English Standard Version)
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Needless to say, if we have the above attributes of love, then we can tell that we are truly in love. If we can’t find them in ourselves, then we are really not in love.
Importance of Love
Love is so important that the Bible views it as more important than the other gifts described below.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (New King James Version)
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.
1 Corinthians 13:13 (New King James Version)
And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Love banishes our fear.
1 John 4:18 (New King James Version)
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.
Love fortifies our faith.
Galatians 5:6 (New King James Version)
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.
Love binds all our good virtues in perfect unity.
Colossians 3:12-14 (New King James Version)
Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.
We also ought to love our enemies.
Luke 6:27-33 (New King James Version)
“But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.
“But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.
God is love and love is of God. We can know God through love, through Christ, who is the love of God.
1 John 4:7-11 (New King James Version)
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
God’s love for us is great.
John 3:16 (New King James Version)
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
Ephesians 2:4-7 (New King James Version)
But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
Jesus Christ loves God, the Father, by perfectly following His commandments. He loves us by sacrificing His Self for the forgiveness of our sins.
John 12:49 (New King James Version)
For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak.
Luke 4:43 (New King James Version)
but He said to them, “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent.”
Mark 10:45 (New King James Version)
For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
Christ is beloved by God.
Matthew 3:17 (New King James Version)
And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
2 Peter 1:16-17 (New King James Version)
For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. 17 For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
We must love by actions and truth.
1 John 3:18-19 (New King James Version)
My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him.
Love will give us courage and confidence in the Day of Judgment.
1John 4:17 (New King James Version)
Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world.
1 John 4:17 (New International Version)
In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him.
Love is a choice. That’s why God gave us the commandments to love. To love our God and our neighbors: these are the first and the second greatest commandments.
Deuteronomy 30:19 (New King James Version)
I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live;
Mark 12:28-31 (New King James Version)
Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, “Which is the first commandment of all?” Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”