The operational definition of love is “giving to others’ basic needs without having as my motive personal reward.” A motive is a reason for speaking or acting a certain way. I Corinthians 16:14 says, “Let all your things be done with charity.” God Himself is love, and when He dwells within us, we can be motivated by His love. His love is unconditional, offered even when the recipient does not deserve it. Love meets practical needs and communicates worth, acceptance, and belonging. For example, a loving person would willingly sit by someone who is lonely or choose a teammate that others overlook. Love is the highest, purest motivation in our interactions with others. God gave us commands to help us know how to love Him and others. To love God with all one’s heart is to keep the greatest commandment!
Loving one’s neighbor is second. As we receive and extend God’s love to others, we discover it even has the power to conquer fear, hatred, and selfishness. Furthermore, all other character qualities are ways we can communicate this foundational quality of love.
The opposite of love is selfishness. People often say they love someone, but their love may be based on what they can get, not on what they can give. That “love” is actually self-love, also known as selfishness. Conflicts arise because the selfish person’s priority is to do what is best for himself. (See James 4:1.) Unconsciously he thinks, “What’s in it for me?” as he considers first his own needs and wants. He is too focused on himself to take care of those who are hurting. A selfish person may refuse to speak with a visitor at church only because he is more comfortable talking with people he already knows. Or he may do the opposite and befriend a new person in hopes of gaining attention. While a selfish person may try to impress others with his actions or pretend that his motivation is to care for others, God is not deceived. He sees the heart and knows its every motive.
- Have I personally experienced God’s love through His salvation?
- Do I forgive and respond with kindness to those who have hurt me?
- Am I willing to practically help those God brings into my life?
- Am I easily provoked or impatient with others?
- Do I envy the possessions, abilities, or opportunities of others rather than rejoice with them?
- What good manners and courtesies do I practice in order to honor others?
- Do I consider what is best for someone else, even when it causes me inconvenience?
- Am I quick to affirm positive qualities in others rather than criticize their faults?
- Does my love persevere when someone is difficult to love?
More About Love
God enables me to:
Receive His love.
Look for people in need.
Treat others as I want to be treated.
Meet practical needs.
Be patient with others.
Overlook the faults of others.
Care for others.
Be willing to sacrifice.
Love my enemies.
Become a channel of love.
Love in Scripture
Boaz Shows Love to a Newcomer
Revealed in Nature
Biblical Character Illustrated Curriculum
View the Love booklet sample:
Free Resources for Love
Enjoy these selections from the Biblical Character Illustrated Curriculum that are fun and memorable!