Love is real. It’s something that actually exists, and God is the source of it.
Welcome to “Inside The Cup Podcast” with Mike and Holly Walsh
Season 1: “How to Love Your Neighbor as Yourself”
Episode 4: “What Exactly is Love?”
1 John 4:7 says, “Let us love one another, for love comes from God.” Love is real, and it comes from God.
Mike and Holly take a look at the biblical depiction of “love,” reading from 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, and discuss how it is not our task, as we often think it is, to act like this all of the time. If we are being honest we are not like that, and that’s OK, because Paul is describing what “love” is, not what we are. Rather than trying to act lovingly all of the time and then feeling defeated from not being able to do it, our task is to accept this love that comes from God into our being, starting with the innermost parts of our person, and allow this agape love to transform all the dimensions of our being, leaving us a loving person.
Mike and Holly offer a very practical definition of love, where love means: “To choose what is good for the thing you’re loving,” and give some practical examples of what this might look like in our everyday lives and interactions with others.
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What Exactly is Love? | Episode 4, (04/21/22)
Season 1: How to Love Your Neighbor as Yourself
Mike: Welcome back to Inside The Cup Podcast. Last episode we talked about “Spiritual Formation”: being transformed into a person who is more like Jesus, a loving person. So, if we’re going to become a loving person, if we’re going to become filled with God’s agape love, let’s take a closer look at love. What exactly is love?
Holly: So, what is love? Well, everyone knows 1 Corinthians 13.
Mike: Yeah, if we’re talking about love from a biblical standpoint, probably the classic text to go through is some verses from 1 Corinthians 13.
Holly: “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 records 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,” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8). There, that’s a good definition of love.
Mike: Yeah. So, let’s take that. Now, “love” does not come naturally to human beings. Some quick evidence of that: just try inserting your name into all those verses that Holly just read from the apostle Paul, and it won’t take long to see that we’re not like that. I’m not patient. I’m not kind. That’s not true of me.
Holly: But that is OK, because Paul is describing what love is, not what we are. If we try to act like all those descriptors that Paul gave us: “I will try to be patient. I will try to be kind. I will not be proud.” It just won’t work because we are not like that.
Mike: Yeah. If we try to, what we’ll end up with is inconsistent actions, failure, and then feeling defeated from trying to act loving all the time. We won’t be able to keep it up. This is because love is actually beyond human capabilities on our own, and we’re going to have to reach outside of ourselves to resources beyond ourselves to be able to love.
Holly: So, I’m not like that, but love is like that because love comes from God and God is like that. Love is something that actually exists, and God is the source of it.
Mike: Yeah, love comes from God. In 1 John 4:7 it says, “Let us love one another, for love comes from God.” So, love is something that actually exists, and God is the source of it. It comes from him.
Holly: So, what would you define love as Mike?
Mike: Yeah, let’s come up with a real, concrete, practical definition for the word love. So, love means: “To choose what is good for the thing that you’re loving.” So, if I’m choosing what’s good for my wife, that’s the loving thing for my wife. If I’m choosing what’s good for my kids, that’s loving my kids. It’s choosing what’s good for the thing that you’re loving.
Holly: OK, so give me an example of that Mike. What does that mean “To choose what is good for the thing you love?”
Mike: Well, I think we see common examples of love all around us. If you look at human beings, there’s a hint, or marks of genuine love in…in all kinds of scenarios. A common example you could think of is look at a mother and her newborn baby. You know, she’s just gazing into the baby’s eyes, and you see some of these things that Paul described. You see her being patient, and kind, and not self-seeking, and protecting, etc. There’s genuine marks of real love there in that human relationship, in that bond.
Holly: But I’ve been there. I’m a mom of four. You realize very quickly how self-seeking you actually are when the baby is crying, and you are hungry. Or you’re tired because it’s three in the morning. It’s hard to be those things.
Mike: And that’s important because we’re not the source of love, God’s the source of love. So, we take some of his love into our system and we have a limited supply to work with, where God has an unlimited supply of love. So, we’re not capable of acting loving all the time unless we’re drawing that love in from God. You may find yourself acting loving towards your baby, but what happens when that baby grows up and is a teenager. And say that teenager is acting very difficult, and making some poor decisions? That’s going to be a lot more challenging to remain patient and kind, and…
Holly: Or people that are not even family members.
Mike: Yeah, just take your average people that you go to church with. Or work with.
Holly: Or even your enemies, people you don’t really like very much.
Mike: Yeah, now acting lovingly is starting to look a little bit harder, and it is going to be a lot harder to keep that up and be consistent with that.
Holly: So, our goal is not to just try to be loving all the time. Our goal is to accept God’s love into our inner being, and allow it to transform everything, all the dimensions of our life, to being the things that Paul mentions in 1 Corinthians 13.
Mike: Yeah, a loving person.
Holly: Jesus was full of God’s love. He did not need to try and act a certain way in any situation. He just naturally acted lovingly, in all circumstances, when he was put on the spot. Love was his character. It just naturally flowed out of him, in all he did, at all times, and to all those that were around him.
Mike: You mentioned accepting God’s love into our inner being and allowing that to transform all of our parts. So, we’ll talk some more about the different “parts” of the person because that’s going to be important. One of those parts, the heart or the human will, is going to end up being essential in the transformation process. That’s the first place we transform along this journey of becoming a loving person.
Holly: So, what does it look like to accept God’s love into our inner being? What might that look like?
Mike: Our heart, we’re going to find out, is the same thing as our will. Where we make decisions, where we choose. So, if we’re accepting God’s love into our heart, into that part of the person, what that looks like on a practical level: Our will, or our heart, is where we make our decisions, our choices. Basically. it’s what we want. So, say I’m at work and I really want to get something important done and put in an extra hour or two to make that happen before I go home. It might be that my family is waiting for me at home and my beautiful wife has already prepared a delicious meal, and they’re waiting for me to be there. Let’s say one of our children has a really important day at school tomorrow. In this example, what I do is: I submit my will, or what I want, to love, to what is good for my wife, my family. That’s a very practical way of love coming in and affecting or changing our heart or will. We learn to submit our will to love.
Holly: Or to choose what is good for the thing you love? To be there to eat dinner with us and join your family, even though you really would love to accomplish all the things that you wanted to get done at work.
Mike: That right there is love coming in and transforming or changing my will, which is the first step. And once it goes beyond the will, we’ll see that filter out into our mind, our thoughts, our feelings. Love will start to transform our body, our social relationships, and then we find that the whole person, all the parts of the person, have been transformed by love.
Holly: So even our desires and our wants are different, because they’re in line with what God would want or what is good for another.
Mike: Yeah, Jesus was full of God’s love. It was his character, so it flowed out of him without him having to think about it, or without having to choose that. And a large part of our actions like we’ve talked about before, are…come out of habit or are subconscious. Once we get love down to that part in our character, our actions will be loving, whether we decide to do it or not.
Holly: And I think that’s what Jesus was getting at in his parable that he talks about in Luke 10, about the “Good Samaritan”.
Mike: Yeah, that’s another great example of this. So, the “Good Samaritan” in the story was actually the least likely, or would have been the least likely, to stop and help the injured man. But the “Good Samaritan” was actually a loving person. It was somebody that was full of love, and it was his character. So, when he came across this injured man that needed love, needed somebody to act lovingly towards him, he did it. And he didn’t have to think about it.
Holly: And the people that you would have thought would be the person to help him, like the priest or the Levite in the story, were not able to act lovingly when they were put on the spot. That was their character. They…kept on walking.
Mike: So, love is real. Love exists. And it comes from God, and it’s available to us. We learn to take this love into our person, starting first with the innermost parts of our person and allow this love to transform us, transform our character. And the result: we become a person marked by God’s love, a loving person.
Holly: So, we will find that naturally, we will choose what is good for the things that we love. Next week we’ll talk about what love is not, and address some of the current cultural misconceptions about love.
Music: Vlad Gluschenko — Travelling
License: Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/deed.en