How Do We Define Love?

posted on

What is Love?

A Letter from the Publisher

Valentines Day. Love.

These two words seem go hand in hand. Every year we take a day to appreciate that special someone in our life by buying flowers, chocolates, jewelry, or a nice, fancy dinner. We take an evening out of our busy schedules to slow down and focus on each other.

But what is love?

Society tells us that love is a feeling. It is how you feel when you think about someone or even look at someone. But in my experience, feelings fade and change with our current emotions. I have seen couples who were so in love end up leaving each other with nothing but hate after years of marriage. So where did the love go?

In order to answer this question, we must look to the creator of love, God, and see what He has to say about it in His Word, and what better chapter to look at than 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 to tell us!

“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.”

To me, I do not get the sense that love is a feeling after reading these verses, but instead, it is a choice.

A choice to be patient with your spouse, a choice to be kind, a choice not to be envious or boastful or proud! These are all choices that we have to consciously make, they don’t just magically happen. This is why it is so important for our foundation in any relationship to be built on Christ and His Word. When we do this, we can display many types of love: the love for a spouse, the love for a mother or father, the love for a child, and then there is the greatest love of all, the love of Jesus to us. 

Author Celeste Hawkins in her newest release Always Been Loved: Discovering God’s True Feelings for You, she focuses on the love that Jesus has for us. How do you think God feels about you – right now? Just hold still. As that soul-searching question sinks in, let yourself admit what you really thought the last time you closed your eyes to pray. Maybe you’ve come to believe that God feels angry with you?  Or disappointed. Or, worst of all, completely unconcerned.

And yet the reality we forget—or maybe never even heard during years of church services—awaits discovery, hidden away in some of the unexpected places in our Bibles like treasure buried for too long. Always Been Loved unearths forty specific truths that demonstrate what’s actually in God’s heart for us: genuine, unconditional love. This book captures these acts of love in the form of personal letters, as if God Himself had written them right to you.

God’s ready to show you His true feelings, once and for all, to tell you how much He loves you. You’ve always been loved.


Karen Ferguson follows this theme of God’s love for us in her book Guess How Much God Loves You with a similar message but geared toward children. Guess How Much God Loves You is the story of seven-year-old Lucy Lu, a colorful, creatively curious first-grader, who is starting to have serious questions about God.

How old is He? Does He sleep? What does He do all day? And the biggest one of all—does God love me?

After one particularly hard day of being bullied by her classmates at school, Lucy feels like she doesn’t matter. She sits with Papa Joe, who has promised to answer her questions about God, launching them onto a journey to discover God’s never-changing, never-failing, never-ending love.

What follows is a wild adventure through the Bible, where Lucy and her papa find themselves in the middle of each page of the exciting story of God’s love and faithfulness for all people throughout all of history.

I Know the Plans by Jennifer BosmaIn I Know the Plans, author Jennifer Bosma seeks to show God’s love for us through the perfect plan He has for each and every one of us. It is so important for children to have a firm foundation to build upon. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path(Psalm 119:105). This children’s book, with its beautiful illustrations, points children to that plan.

God has a plan for each child before they are even created. But in this noisy world, it’s easy for our children to not hear God’s voice and forget who they were created to be.

I Know the Plans presents God’s promises to young children with a fun, engaging rhyme, planting the seeds of Scripture into their hearts to help them grow in their love for Him. With vivid illustrations accompanying each passage, I Know the Plans captures a little one’s attention from start to finish and should be the first book in every child’s library.

Each of these books examines the happiness that can be found with love, but there can also be sorrow.

Shelly Calcagno explores this love and sorrow in The Longest Goodbye: A Family’s Hope-Filled Journey Through Alzheimer’s. How do you love someone who doesn’t even remember your name? How do you continue to let them know you are there for them when they no longer remember you are their child? How do we say goodbye? And more importantly, are we ever ready to say goodbye?

Shelly tells readers, “I wasn’t prepared for her to go. To have her sit right beside me, yet be so far away. My mother and life-long best friend who doesn’t even remember my name. It’s been the longest goodbye. And I keep asking this question—how do we love through the hardest of days? Through the pain and the loss? Listening to the slow ticking of the clock, as we sit watching everything slip away. Most of the time we don’t have a choice. I didn’t have a choice. So we look for glimmers of hope, reach for deep grace, and collect precious memories into a big pile of legacy love. We treasure each goodbye like it’s the most important moment we’ve ever had. Because it is.” 

Alzheimer’s disease affects almost fifty million people worldwide. It touches people across every walk of life. So, how do millions of people figure out how to love as they let go? The Longest Goodbye is a collection of stories and moments not just about the clinical side of memory loss–but the emotional heart journey. It is a story that shows how joy and grief are often intertwined and wrapped up together in the glorious mess of life.

The Longest Goodbye encourages readers to remember the ones they love while they are still here and to intentionally celebrate and live through the pain and hard days. It’s filled with tears, hope, and bitter-sweet moments all held together by the beautiful love of a mother and daughter holding onto a life filled with memories, while learning to let go and say goodbye.

Caitlin Smith examines how sometimes we have to relearn what love is in her book Love’s Lost Star.

Caitlin follows the stories of the main characters Cece and Jason. Cece Burbin thought she knew what love was—people using you to get what they wanted. Until she met Jason Porter. But on what should have been the happiest day of their lives, Cece wakes up on a riverbank cold, alone, and in pain. After realizing she lost her voice, Cece becomes desperate to find a way to communicate with someone that she needs help. Freeing herself, she sets off in search of the only man she has truly loved. But as she struggles to find her way back home, her past quickly begins to creep back. The gang she thought she had left behind was never that far away, and the crimes she has committed are coming back to haunt her. Can God truly love and forgive her for all she has done?

Jason is just as frantic to find his missing bride. But when he receives a note saying she left him for another man, his world is shattered. How had he missed her change of heart? Jason struggles to trust God in this heartbreak, battling uncertainty about the future he thought he had. But when he meets a strange woman who claims to be a private investigator, he discovers a clue that could change everything. Unaware that time is running out, the abandoned bridegroom sets off in search of love’s lost star.

Something that seems so simple turns out is actually quite complicated. Love.

My prayer this Valentines Day is that we would each understand how to love those in our lives a little better, a little longer, and a little stronger. I pray that we would each experience the life-changing love given to us by our Savior, and show that love to everyone we meet. I pray that we realize what it means to truly love before it is too late. 

“And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.”

Colossians 3:14-15