What is love? 7 indisputable definitions of love

Haddaway most famously sang “What is love?” but demanded to not be hurt without finding much of an answer. Must’ve been looking in the wrong place as I’ve found 7 life-changing definitions of love to help us all. You’re welcome Hadders.

The trouble with love is…

Whilst writing my recent love-themed Promise of the Week series I’ve come across a few things that have made me rethink my whole approach to love and life. So I thought I’d take a break from the series (just for today don’t worry) to talk about it.

I can’t help but think love has been given a really hard time. Not to say we can’t/don’t enjoy all the wonders of love in our lives (thank God!) but like thorns on a rose we just can’t ignore the harsh reality; love can be the most powerful word ever spoken in one moment and the most meaningless the next.

In everything from adverts to vegas weddings, “love” has been imitated, manipulated, gift-wrapped and packaged and used to confine, intoxicate, disempower, misuse and abuse. Sad but never-the-less true.

In 2012, 1 in 7 divorces granted were as a result of adultery, 2011 saw an increase in children going into care and 2014 saw a rise in the number of elderly suffering from loneliness. I think it’s fair to say that there’s a problem in how we treat each other and subsequently I think it’s fair to ask, are we losing our understanding of true, authentic love?

What is love?

In my pursuit of the abundant life I’ve realised there’s no room for love apathy. We are here to live the fullness of life and love and, having gathered some tips from the good book, the following should help us to better understand what that means.

So to clear the cobwebs of confusion and hopefully give Haddaway some overdue peace, I present 6 absolute unwavering indisputable definitions of true love:

1. Love and expect to be loved with these characteristics.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongsLove does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Well we could end this right here. This definition is the foundation for everything we need to know about love.

I’ve written this as a note to self to remind me how to love and how I expect to be loved. I’m learning to apply this to everything, not just relationships but how I deal with projects at work, diet and self-esteem even spending money and budgeting. It applies to so much.

2. Love keeps you right with God and your fellow man

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the lawThe commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not covet,’ and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ Love does no harm to a neighbour. Therefore love is the fulfilment of the law – Romans 13:8-10

In the words of Lauryn Hill “It could all be so simple but you’d rather make it hard”. Sometimes I get so overwhelmed by all the different demands of my life then I read something like this and it just puts everything back into perspective.

What really makes us happy in this life? Loving each other. What is God’s commandment? Love each other. How do we keep God’s commandments? By loving each other. Who’s happy when we love each other? Everyone. Ha!

We are charged with one task in this life and it’s the one thing that makes us truly happy. Love is #winning

3. If you let it, experiencing God’s love doesn’t even compare to the best things in life.

“I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than lifemy lips will glorify you.” Psalm 63:3

King David. The poet of  all poets. My fingers could not snap hard or fast enough at the words this man writes. Think he’d be up for hosting a spoken word event or two in heaven! Wow could you imagine?

I digress. The point is God love us and his love is not something to be apathetic about. It’s something to be experienced, revelled and wrapped up in. It’s something that nothing else can compare to and you need never be without. It satisfies completely and shows you how to love others better. Which is why of all relationships this is the most important.

4. Love, is not just a word, it’s an action!

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. – 1 John 3:16-18

Simply, love can and should be seen as well as heard. Professing love but then mistreating someone is at best emotional fraud in my book. Don’t accept it, don’t do it.

Instead recognise that love is like a material from which we can make the most profoundly beautiful expressions. We see it in art, music and dance we see it in when buy treats for our coworkers, when we take chicken soup to a sick friend, when he hug someone who’s hurting and make peace with an enemy. Acts like these make the world a more wonderful place to live.

5. Amazingly, if you’re really curious to see what God looks like, love will show it to you.

No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. – 1 John 4:12

Every beautiful exchange of love reveals an even more beautiful God. It’s better than magic, it’s a miracle!

6. God is love!

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them – 1 John 4:16

This revelation almost brings us full circle with point 1. Swap love for God in the passage above and you get something truly phenomenal.

God is patient, God is kind. He does not envy, he does not boast, he is not proud. He does not dishonour others, he is not self-seeking, he is not easily angered, he keeps no record of wrongs. God does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. He always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

7. There is no fear in love!

This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: in this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.We love because he first loved us. – 1 John 4:17-18

For myriad reasons, for some God has been painted as this menacing figure and christianity as a fear-mongering regimental faith. Truly there is a fear-like quality to be felt when you perceive the awesome power of God. Could you stand with confidence against a tsunami? Me neither. But God isn’t threatening to devastate or destroy us. He’s promising eternal love and life.

“Fear has to do with punishment”. God’s perfect love is made complete in us when we follow Christ’s example in loving each other and for doing so there is no punishment to be feared only an everlasting reward.

Love and be fearless.

I think that’s a good point to end on. That and perhaps a quick Haddaway remix: “What is love? Corinthians Thirteen, Thirteen, oh yeah!” Problem solved. You’re welcome Haddaway. Let the 90s dancing commence.

A quick note on Promise of the Week:

Promise of the Week will resume next week with a new theme. As someone who can often suffer from anxiety I’d like to look into promises relating to security, problem solving, peace or something along those lines.. If you have any favourite anti-anxiety promises feel free to share below.

In the meantime would love to hear your thoughts on these definitions of love.

God bless xx

Amongst many other things, I'm a 30-something contemplative Londoner making the daily commute between contentment and ambition.When not blogging, I'm using my talents for good as communications director at Gingerland and co-founder of Love Harlem.

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