What is the Definition of True Love?

Some would say that love is a feeling, an emotion, or perhaps just a chemical reaction in the human brain. Others would say that love is a frame of mind, a commitment that is chosen to be lived out day after day. Still others might say that love is instinctual, a reflection of our biological and relational responses. Or perhaps it’s just practical so that we aren’t alone.

Yet, despite an abundance of thoughts and opinions, this is a question that continues to mystify mankind because we all have a sense that love is greater and better than the answers the world presents to us. There must be something more than flowers, candy, and butterflies in our stomach.

What if love isn’t a “thing” after all? Things come and go, things break and fall apart, things change. But we all sense for some reason that love shouldn’t do any of those things.

So perhaps the first question we should ask isn’t what is true love, but who is true love?

Who is True Love?

The Bible is full of information telling us about the nature of God and one of the most powerful statements says:

He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
— 1 John 4:8

In other words, God is the creator, the essence, the source of real love. 

When we love someone in an unselfish way, we are reflecting that part of God that He has placed in all of us. What do I mean by that? Consider a painter and his masterpiece. Is there not an element of the painter in his masterpiece? I’m certain the painter would say there is. 

God created mankind and as His creation, there is a reflection of Him in all of us.  

When we think of being a reflection of God we often think in physical terms, but God isn’t confined by the physical world because He is spirit. So instead, think of it from a different perspective—we aren’t created in the image of God physically, we’re created in His image spiritually.

So when we love someone with godly love, we reflect our heavenly Father and we may not even realize it!

What is True Love?

Which leads to the next question: what is unselfish, godly love? Paul wrote in his first letter to the church in Corinth:

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. Love never fails.
— 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

This tells us what a manifestation of true love will look like when it is practically lived out in our lives, but remember the what is the result of knowing the who.

Since God is love, simply go back and read those verses from First Corinthians again, only this time substitute the name “God” in place of the word “love.” If you do, I think you will get a much clearer picture of who God is and what He wants our lives to look like as a result. 

That is why John wrote, “He who does not love does not know God.” When we know God, and I mean truly know Him, the very definition of love, we will resemble His likeness more and more because who He is will begin to supernaturally shine forth from our lives. And that is what true love should look like.

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