Love is probably the most misunderstood word in the world. Part of the problem is that we use this one word to describe many things. We water down its meaning by overuse. I love my wife. I love America. I love pizza. I love my dog. I love you. I would love to have my back rubbed. We use the word love in so many different ways that it has literally lost its meaning.
Giving or receiving love is difficult when we don’t even understand what it is. Most people think love is a feeling- a sentimental knot in the stomach, a quiver in the liver, an ocean of emotion. True, love does produce feelings, but it is more than a feeling. How often we rely on our feelings and let our feelings motivate us to do all kinds of things we might not normally do.
Another misconception is that love is uncontrollable. Have you ever said, “I feel in love”- as if you had tripped. We assume that love can’t be controlled. We talk as if love is uncontrollable, but the Bible says love is controllable. Jesus commands that we love others. His words indicate that we do have control over whom we love and whom we do not love.
Love is at the core two things. First, it is a matter of choice. The Bible says, “Over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity”(Col. 3:14). Notice those two little words “put on”. Love is something we choose to have. If it were a feeling, we could not command it. But we can command a choice, and love is a choice. It is controllable.
The Bible also says that love is Matter conduct. Love is something we do- an action, not a feeling. The aspostle John expressed it this way: “Let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth” (1 John 3:18).
Love is more than words and more than feelings. The Greeks had four words to differentiate different types of love: storage, which means natural affection; eros, which means sexual attraction; philia, which means emotional affection or friendship; and agape, which means unconditional, giving, sacrificial love. When the Bible speaks of God’s love for us and the kind of love we are to have for Him and for other people, the word is always agape, signifying a commitment to act.