The great 90’s poet, Haddaway, once cried out,
“What is love?!
Baby, don’t hurt me.
Don’t hurt me. No more.
What is love?!”
This poor man, hurting and distraught, was looking for answers. In his agony, he penned his lamentations to the melody of synthesizers and the thumping of a techno beat… Okay, I’m being funny. I don’t know if Haddaway would be considered a poet, but the dude asks a pretty profound question: what is love?
We hear the word tossed around all the time. From songs to movies to slogans to memes. We’re told we should love each other. We’re told to “live, laugh, love”. Others say to “eat, pray, love”. The Beatles told us that love is all we need. Well, we all know it’s important, but what is it exactly? What does it mean to love someone? Is it a certain feeling we should have? Is it some ethereal force that comes over us?
Through both study of the Bible and personal experience, my wife and I have tried to come up with a working definition:
guided by wisdom,
fueled by faith.
Love is a selflessness, guided by wisdom, fueled by faith.
Let’s break that down…
1. Selflessness: Ultimately, love is selflessness. Love thinks of others. Love is concerned about other people’s interests, not just it’s own. Go read the love passage in 1 Corinthians 13. “Love is patient, love is kind…” and so on. What’s the common theme to all these virtues listed? Selflessness. Love lets go of self. Love gives up its rights. Love forgives, while selfishness screams they hurt ME, and seeks to get even.
2. Guided by wisdom: Love is selflessness guided by wisdom. This is important! Because there’s a selflessness NOT guided by wisdom—it’s a people-pleasing kind of “love”; it’s a passive, pushover kind of “love”. This kind of love will eventually turn to resentment. Biblical love is grounded in wisdom. It is not out of balance. It gives what is right to give; not to the point of burn-out. Love understands boundaries and self-respect. Love doesn’t allow itself to be taken advantage of, but yet never grows resentful and is patient to all.
3. Fueled by faith: Love is fueled by faith. Or you could say, faith is the “how” behind love. How can I be truly selfless? If I am selfless, then what about me?! What about my needs?!
The truth is, we all have needs. We all have a “self” to worry about. This is not wrong. We should not be ashamed of ourselves, or our needs. But here’s the key: We give our “self” over to God. We entrust our “what about me?” to Him. By faith, we can be selfless, because we’re trusting God to take care of us. In this way, our love can be real, and not some martyrs complex. God knows we have needs. God knows we have wants. We can entrust our needs over to God.
When someone wrongs us, and our flesh screams “What about me?!”, how can we not be resentful? We allow God to be our defender, and trust him with handling our justice.
Love is selflessness, guided by wisdom, fueled by faith.