In the biblical world, the word love has very little to do with how we feel. Since the 19th century, with its romantic literature and theology, we have come to think of the word love as describing a kind of feeling, an emotion, or a kind of transcendent experience. That is an anachronistic way to read the Bible.
In Scripture, the word love is a synonym for service or help. In 1 Kings 5, for example, we read about King Hiram and his love for his friend David:
…Hiram had always been a friend of David. (1 Kings 5:1)
This reference is sometimes translated, “Hiram always loved David.” In context, the verse actually means something more like, “Hiram had always helped David.” There are other places in Scripture in which the same kind of illustration can be made.
The word love, in Scripture, does not refer to an emotional state. Rather, the word love has to do with practical aspects of behavior, with the way we live our lives.
Love should inform all of your relationships.
The word also has to do specifically with our relationships with others. That is why Paul says in 1 Corinthians that the gift of prophecy is superior to the gift of tongues; the gift of tongues is an isolated gift. Unless an interpreter is present, only the individual worshiper can enjoy the gift of tongues:
… in the church I desire to speak five words with my mind so that I may instruct others also, rather than ten thousand words in a tongue. (1 Corinthians 14:19)
Love always has the other person in mind. It lives in relationship. Love lives always with an eye toward others. To think that I can live in love and yet live my life in isolation is a contradiction in terms.
Love takes into consideration someone else’s circumstances. Love is willing to know that you had a hard day today. It is willing to know that you have problems. Love is willing to spend time to listen, to know of the pains and hurts of your life.
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The preceding was adapted by Rachel Motte from a sermon Dr. Sloan delivered at Tallowood Baptist Church on June 24, 1990.