Defining Love

Or “Meditations on Love”
Or “Meditations on What It Means to Love”

This is a subsidiary post of Love.

Related posts:

Subsidiary post:  Hate (because it helps us understand love; as in, for example, “Hate evil, you who love the Lord” in Psalm 97:10)

The verses below move us toward a definition of love – God’s definition of love.  They apply both to our love for God and our love for each other.

Matthew 7:12  –  “…treat people the same way you want them to treat you…”  –  In Mark 12:28-34, Jesus defined the Law as love.  In this verse, therefore, Jesus was either contradicting Himself or else He was saying that treating one’s neighbor as one wishes to be treated is the same thing as love.  Of course, the command to “love your neighbor as yourself” confirms this.

Matthew 16:23  –  “But He turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s’.”  –  This verse is replicated in Mark 8:33.  Compare these with Philippians 2:3-4 below which demonstrates the shift in interests which should accompany our declaration of love for Christ.  In this regard, see also 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 below.  Compare also with 1 Peter 4:1-2 below.

Luke 7:36-50  –  “…When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. So which of them will love him more?…For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little…”

Luke 10:37  –  “…showed mercy…”  –  Love is a demonstration of mercy to a person in need of it.

John 15:13  –  “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.”

Romans 13:8-10  –  “…Love does no wrong to a neighbor…”  –  Read the individual commandments in this passage to put a finer point on your understanding of the sorts of things love entails.

Romans 15:1-4  –  “Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves.  Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification.  For even Christ did not please Himself…”  –  See note on 1 Corinthians 10:24 below.

1 Corinthians 10:24  –  “Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor.”  –  1 Corinthians 13:5 below tells us that love does not seek its own; this verse tells us what it does seek.

1 Corinthians 13:1-13  –  “…Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never fails…But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

1 Corinthians 16:14  –  “Let all that you do be done in love.”  –  Love is a motive that can suffice for all human activity.  It is righteous.  In fact, it is the essence of righteousness.

2 Corinthians 5:14-15  –  For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.”  –  Love means “living for the other rather than for self.”

2 Corinthians 7:2  –  “…we wronged no one, we corrupted no one, we took advantage of no one.”

2 Corinthians 8:3-5  –  “…they first gave themselves to the Lord and to us by the will of God.”

2 Corinthians 11:28  –  “…the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches.”

2 Corinthians 12:14-15  –  “Here for this third time I am ready to come to you, and I will not be a burden to you; for I do not seek what is yours, but you; for children are not responsible to save up for their parents, but parents for their children.  I will most gladly spend and be expended for your souls. If I love you more, am I to be loved less?”

Galatians 5:13-15  –  “…do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another…But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.”

Galatians 6:2  –  “Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.”

Galatians 6:9-10  –  “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.  So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.”

Philippians 2:3-4  –  “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”  –  Love means “looking out for the interests of others.”  See also note on 1 Corinthians 10:24 above.

Philippians 2:19-21  –  But I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you…For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare.  For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus.”  –  See Philippians 2:3-4 above as well as 1 Corinthians 10:24 and its following note.

1 Thessalonians 5:15  –  “See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people.”

James 2:8  (quoting Leviticus 19:18 below)  –  “If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF,” you are doing well.”

1 Peter 4:1-2  –  “…so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.”  –  Compare with Matthew 16:23 above, the distinction between the interests of men and the interests of God is emphasized.

1 John 3:16-18  –  “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.  But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?  Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.”  – Love acts.

1 John 4:8  –  “…God is love.”

1 John 4:16  –  “…God is love…”

1 John 4:18  –  “There is no fear in love…”

1 John 4:9  –  “We love, because He first loved us.”  –  We understand love by understanding all He has done for us.


Leviticus 19:17, 18 (quoted in James 2:8 above)  –  Love includes reproving your neighbor when appropriate.

Nehemiah 2:10  –  “…someone had come to seek the welfare of the sons of Israel.”

Esther 10:3  –  “…one who sought the good of his people and one who spoke for the welfare of his whole nation.”

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