A few years ago The New Times, an online news source, published the results of this question: “What does love mean?”
It was posed by professionals in human behavior to a group of 4-8 year-olds. Here are some of their answers”
“When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn’t bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That’s love.” Rebecca – age 8
“When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You just know that your name is safe in their mouth.” Billy – age 4
“Love is what makes you smile when you’re tired.” Terri – age 4
“Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK.” Danny – age 7
“If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate.” Nikka – age 6 (Suppose we could use a few more Nikkas in the world?)
“Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, and then he wears it every day.” Noelle – age 7
“Love is when Mommy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken.” Elaine – age 5
“Love is when Mommy sees Daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is more handsome than Robert Redford.” Chris – age 7
On this Valentine’s day, we hear a lot about love. Not every feeling for another is really true love. We use the word “love” to express feelings for everything and everyone. Ice cream. Dogs. Sports. Cars. Family.
The Greeks had four different words for love. One word expressed sexual attraction. Another the tender feelings for a friend. A third referred to family love. But the fourth, agape’, is a love of the mind. The will. The whole being. Barclay says it is a love “that loves the unlovable.” It’s a love of commitment.
The Bible’s “love chapter,” 1 Corinthians 13, specifically speaks of 15 characteristics of agape’ love. Verses 7-8 conclude with 5 that will challenge us in all our relationships, especially marriage.
“(Love) bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.”
#1 Love knows no limit to its endurance.
We say, “There’s a limit!” “I’ve got to draw the line somewhere.” “I can only take so much.” I’ve heard husbands who left their wives say, “I couldn’t put up with her anymore.”
Agape’ love can bear any insult. Withstand any injury. Suffer any disappointment.
#2 Love knows no end to its trust.
Love and trust go together. Love believes the best about the object of its love. It does not automatically react with suspicion, mistrust or misgiving. Love does not see people as they are, but as they can be. Love’s special bond is birthed in the blood of Jesus. Even when trust is broken, agape’ finds a way to rebuild trust.
#3 Love knows no fading of its hope.
Jesus believed that no person was hopeless. His love was expressed in hope toward the sinful woman. The rich young ruler. Nicodemus. The woman taken in adultery.
I’ve heard wives exclaim in desperation, “It’s hopeless. And he’s hopeless.”
Our God is a God of hope. And a God who is the essence and epitome of love. Because God is love, we are never without hope. And because we belong to God and share in His love, we hold on to hope for those we love.
#4 Love can outlast anything.
Love will overcome hate. Vanquish bitterness. Defeat envy and jealousy. Love will survive even the bleakest of circumstances, situations and problems. Neither fate or fortune can overcome love.
You probably repeated marriage vows that went something like this. “I take you to be my wedded husband (or wife) to have and to hold from this day forward…For better or for worse…For richer or for poorer…In sickness and in health…to love and to cherish…until death do us part.”
Yes, love bears with triumphant fortitude.
#5 Love is the one thing that still stands when all else has fallen.
Love never fails.
Love is absolute in its permanency. Dispensations change, but not love. Miraculous gifts cease, but not love. Prophecy reaches its end, but not love.
Love is absolute in its completeness. While at times our perception may be dulled. Or our understanding diminished. Or our emotions diluted. But true love is absolute in its perfection.
Love is absolute in its supremacy. Faith is a great quality. By it we come to God. It’s necessary for salvation. It’s imperative for Christian growth. Hope is indispensable to Christian endurance. Without hope, there is no incentive to go on. Nothing to look forward to. But love outshines both faith and hope. When faith is lost in sight, and hope is realized in eternity, love lives on. It is the crowning quality of all other virtues.
On this Valentine’s day, I wish for you God’s agape’ love. In your relationship with Him. With your spiritual family. With those in your physical family. And with that special someone in your life.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman