What does it mean to love others? This is an important question because our culture and language use the word love with such varying and casual meanings. “I love ice cream!” “I love football!” “I love fishing.” “I love my wife!” In fact, just this week I told my wife that I loved her and she asked me, “What do you mean by that?” I’m pretty sure my wife wants me to love her in a different way than I love ice cream.
Our culture talks about being “in love.” When we say we are “in love,” we are talking about how we feel or how much we like someone or something. Unfortunately, this is exactly NOT what love is according to the Bible. Love is self-sacrifice for the good of another person.
“Greater love has no one than this,
that someone lay down his life for his friends.”
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast;
it is not arrogant or rude.
It does not insist on its own way;
it is not irritable or resentful.”
1 Corinthians 13:4-5
Love has nothing to do with how we feel. In fact, love is what we do in spite of how we may feel. Love has nothing to do with what we get out of it. Real love is about giving, not getting. Jesus said,
“For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?
Do not even the tax collectors do the same?
And if you greet only your brothers,
what more are you doing than others?
Do not even the Gentiles do the same?”
Once again, God calls us to deny ourselves and do things his way. This requires faith. The world and Satan have convinced us that if we get what we want, we will be happy. This is a lie. Selfishness actually does not lead us to fulfillment and happiness. When we deny ourselves and love God, we find that he is all we ever needed or wanted! In the same way, when we deny ourselves and love others, we find joy and satisfaction. Even unbelievers who live a life of service can tell you this!