“Love never fails.” ~The Apostle Paul, 1 Corinthians 13:8
Love is a word we throw around a lot, but what does it actually mean? I found the following explanation on Quora.com in answer to the question, “What is the real meaning of love in today’s world?” It is given by Preetham Krishna from Amalapuram, Andhra Pradesh, India:
What is love?
This is a heavily debated topic. People often try to define love in terms of romantic euphoria; however, the word “love” generally is used so loosely that its meaning can become diluted. The truth is, “love” often is used to describe other emotions or strong feelings. Using the word “love” just saves us the trouble of having to figure out what we’re actually feeling. We can say we “love” anything, but what does love really mean to us?
Let’s take a look at the various ways that we label “love.”
1. I LOVE chocolate.
This is “food tastes yummy” love. When we eat something that tastes overwhelmingly good, we get a physical and emotional satisfaction and that keeps us present as we eat. Food could be love of a sort, but chocolate won’t text to say it misses me during the day.
2. I LOVE this song.
This is auditory love. These sounds and melodies bring us back emotionally to significant memories in our lives. Music is sort of like a bookmark that opens an emotional portal to our past. Music can also be emotional in the present and help us feel or release emotions. Though music can be very moving, I don’t really want to talk about my day to my iPod.
3. I LOVE your shirt.
This is visual love. We see something that resonates with us and we relate to it and enjoy it — somewhat like a painting or a nice view. We may become emotionally moved by something we see. I certainly enjoy a beautiful view, but I can’t bring it with me to the movies.
4. I LOVE my new iPhone.
This is the world’s newest love — “techno-love.” This is the feeling of comfort, excitement, and convenience when we can be connected to our friends, email, Facebook, games, music, etc., all in one little electronic object that fits in our pockets. We sometimes develop attachments to these gadgets because of what they give to us. I enjoy my phone, too, but when I need a hug the phone can only do so much.
5. I LOVE the smell of chocolate chip cookies.
This is the olfactory love (or love of scents). It also includes things such as perfume, cologne, pizza, freshly baked bread, etc. Our senses of taste and smell are attached. Scents can be comforting and relaxing, and may also be an emotional portal to the past. While I love the smell of cookies, I can’t have a meaningful conversation with the smell of cookies.
6. I LOVE (insert sports team here).
This is vicarious love. It also includes TV shows and anything else that involves a bit of fantasy. These bring us entertainment, but we also develop attachments and a “rooting” factor. We begin to identify with players or characters or the story lines or competition, and it attracts us with great anticipation and excitement over what’s going to happen next. There’s often a part of us that wants to be in the shoes of the people we’re watching, living in the roles they play and having an impact on the outcome. Sports and TV are wonderful entertainment; however, it’s hard to imagine making love with a TV.
7. I LOVE my mother.
Family love is the care, comfort, bond, and other emotions that we feel with family members. It’s a different form of attachment from love with a significant other, even though there are many similar properties. Family love undoubtedly is important in our lives, but most likely we won’t be sharing any romantic dinners with our mothers.
8. I LOVE YOU!
This is the love we search for in a partner — romantic love. This love often is sensationalized in movies and in real life (and is somewhat understood to be the “original” love), but these attachments still can be very strong and real. There is a pretty deep psychology to what romantic love actually is and where it comes from (and, as always, it’s debatable). But either way, this is the love where we feel we’ve found a partner we want to share our lives with. This love makes us go the extra mile to make the other feel special and cared for, while we hope to receive mutual caring and sharing. Going the extra mile doesn’t only mean doing something special for the other, but it’s also accepting the other for who they are, including their positive characteristics as well as their limitations.
These examples aren’t advocating for saving the word “love” only for situations involving romantic love, but understanding our personal definition of love is important for finding romance and relationships. We often go from one relationship to another, not understanding what our needs and values are. If we become more attuned to ourselves and gain a deeper understanding of what it is that draws us to something, or someone, we’ll have that much more of a chance of finding what we’re looking for. (Quote source here.)
Omar C. Garcia, Missions Pastor at Kingsland Baptist Church, states the following on the subject of love in his blog, “BibleTeachingNotes.com,” on the best known chapter in the Bible on love found in 1 Corinthians 13:
Who has defined the word “love” for you? There is a lot being said about love these days and you have to be careful who you listen to or you might get the wrong idea about the meaning of love. While musicians and poets attempt to describe and define love in its many splendored forms, no writer deals with the matter of love as musically and poetically as the Apostle Paul. Nowhere else in all of literature, either sacred or secular, will you find the meaning of love more beautifully expressed than in 1 Corinthians 13. The 13th Chapter of 1 Corinthians is like a prism. When a beam of light is passed through a prism, it comes out on the opposite side broken up into its component colors…red, yellow, violet, orange, and all the colors of the rainbow. So it is in 1 Corinthians 13.
We must keep in mind two very important things as we look at this chapter:
First, remember that Scripture was not written in a vacuum. We find this great chapter on love included in a serious letter by Paul to the church in Corinth…a church with very serious problems. In this letter, Paul painted for the Corinthians a picture of themselves…in their factions, their jealousies, their vanity, their carnality, their misuse of Christian liberty, and their bragging about their spiritual gifts. In the thirteenth chapter of this letter, Paul momentarily turned aside from his direct counsels and rebukes to show the Corinthians an ideal Christian life, which was pretty much everything theirs was not.
Second, we must remember that, unlike our language, the Greeks had several words for love. The word “eros” was used to refer to love of deep desire, passionate and sensuous longing. It had a physical and sexual connotation and is nowhere used in the New Testament. The word “storge” referred to the kind of affection found in a family. The word “philia” was used to refer to brotherly love. Finally, the word “agape” was used to express the unconditional kind of love that God expressed toward us through Christ. It implies loving when there is nothing worthy to evoke love. This is the word Paul used in this chapter. [Garcia breaks down the chapter as follows]:
Love is Indispensable or All-Important: 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (full explanation is available here).
Love is Invincible or All-Enduring: 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (full explanation is available here).
Love is Immortal or All-Outlasting: 1 Corinthians 13:8-13 (full explanation is available here).
Garcia then states the following practical considerations:
We should evaluate our understanding of love in the light of Scripture.
In view of the many things that we hear about love in our world today, we should evaluate our understanding of love in the light of Scripture. Love is certainly not what many of the songs and movies of our day make it to be.
Ministry, miracles, and martyrdom are meaningless without love.
We must be certain that our actions are motivated by love. We must guard against doing things for selfish and self-glorifying ends.
There is a difference between love and lust.
It would be profitable to read 1 Corinthians 13 in the following light: Lust is impatient, lust is unkind, and is jealous; lust brags and is arrogant, it acts unbecomingly; it seeks its own, is provoked, takes into account a wrong suffered, rejoices in unrighteousness, but does not rejoice with the truth; exposes all things, doubts all things, gives up on all things, does not endure all things. Lust always fails.
Love is characterized by forgiveness.
Love does not keep ledgers or accounts of wrongdoings. Love will not allow the sun to go down on its anger (Ephesians 4:26), but works to extend and receive forgiveness. (Quote source here.)
I’ll end this post with the words from 1 Corinthians 13 (NIV) written by Paul:
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (Quote source here.)
Without love . . .
Everything else . . .
Is meaningless . . . .
YouTube Video: “Whole Heart” by Brandon Heath: