What Is Love?

Love is confused with desire sometimes. But love is used as a noun and verb. Our question: What Is Love? treats it as a noun. A proverb says, “But love covers all sins,” (Proverb 10:12). In this sense, we note the line before, “Hatred stirs up strife.” So we are talking about sins and offenses in a relationship where “love” seeks to keep the peace, whereas “hatred”—the supposed opposite – causes distress and war. Does this then mean that in a successful relationship where there is peace, “love” should be blind or should ignore issues or events as sins and offenses?

The answer is “no.” Now Scripture answers this question for us when it first tells us that, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love,” (1 John 4:8). So in this verb or verbal sense of “love,” we are encouraged to love because God is love. This last love here that “God is…” is a noun. But we can continue with the verb-sense use of love with respect to God where Scripture says, “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life,” (John 3:16). So God, according to this Scripture knows that we are sinners and do a lot of offenses where we should be punished, but he forgave us and his son died in our place.

We can add to that the fact that God not put sin under the carpet nor hide nor overlook it nor ignore it. In his love and with his love, he rebukes us and corrects us when we sin. Sin has consequences. He gave us guidelines as a result of his love for us to help us on how we should live and deal with sin. Scripture says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,” (2 Timothy 3:16).

More Scriptures tells us that for us to benefit by the act of Jesus sacrifice, according to John 3:16, we need to accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. The Bible says, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him,” (John 3:17). We need to believe and submit ourselves to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and we will be saved.  All this process was done out of a plan of “love” of God—in the verb-sense.

What then of “love” in the noun sense? Our question is: What Is Love? We have “God is love,” (1 John 4:8). In 1 John 4:9-10, the Bible summarizes the love we spoke about above when it says, “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” God in his love was willing and he did sacrifice the life of his “one and only Son,” Jesus. The practice of self-sacrifice is important in knowing and showing love.

Now to know God is to have this intimate, experiential knowledge of Him. It is not merely to have information about God as in reading books, magazines, and even the Bible. Taking lots of courses and attending Bible School and seminary does not mean we know God. We know about him and of him. We must be personally living out his character and traits; be in communion with his Holy Spirit in prayer, meditation and contemplation; be obedient to his wills as they become the law and order of our lives and conscience. Paul tells us to imitate Jesus Christ—his lifestyle, his character, his virtues, his worship style, and all aspects of his life (1 Corinthians 11:1). To know this God is to imitate his attributes as much as we can as in self-sacrificial love (Ephesians 5:1).

What then Is Love? Scripture describes “love” as an all-absorbing, self-sacrificial experience of God based on God’s character, personality, virtues, mercy, grace, and the rest of his perfections. We definitely cannot know love—in God’s sense—completely for He is perfect. We, being imperfect, must continue to always seek to be as close as possible in resemblance to Him who is perfect—God. In fact Scripture recognises our imperfection and tells us, to keep perfecting [our] holiness,” (2 Corinthians 7:1).