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1 John 4:19  We love because He first loved us.

If I have a wrong definition or understanding about something I am likely to have wrong expectations and possibly misuse it.

So, how do we define and understand love correctly so that we use it well?

Clearly, this is a really big subject.

Some thoughts from experts:  Love is….

“When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You know that your name is safe in their mouth.” Billy, age 4

“Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on cologne and they go out and smell each other.” Karl, age 5

Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, and then he wears it every day.” Noelle, age 7

If we listen to the definitions of our culture, love is something we feel, “fall into”, “make”. And on and on…

I think most of us are old enough, seasoned enough, to realize that love is not always warm and fuzzy and rainbows and sunshine. Sometimes love is hard. Sometimes it requires more of me that I want to give. For those of us who are parents, we know that sometimes love is a big hug and sometimes it is discipline. Because real love always the interest of the other in mind first.

Part of the challenge for us in defining it is that we have only one English word - love.

So, I love my wife and I love fried chicken. I love God and I love your new shoes. Somehow that just doesn’t work very well.

In scripture, there are at least 4 different words for our one word love.

It is so much more helpful and clarifying to know if the love spoken of is familial, or friendship, or sexual and physical, or love without condition...

Love is also a verb, an action, something we do, something we choose.

Love is the very nature of God. If God has DNA it is Love. (1 John 4:8)

1 John 4:19 tells us that our capacity to love is only there because He has put it there and filled it.

So, to love others well we need to first receive love - be loved.

And we have!  God has loved us completely, wholly, perfectly, persistently and perpetually.

A number of years ago I was in a meeting with about 25 really wonderful people. All had given their lives to telling students about how much God loved them. We were together at a Young Life camp for a month of working 18 hour days to show and tell kids about this incredible love of God. As we sat in our morning meeting sharing and praying, virtually every one of them shared about how they inwardly struggled to believe that God really loved them. I was stunned! Later one of them rather cautiously confessed that he had never doubted God’s deep love for him. He wondered why he felt differently than the others. Was he missing something obvious that the others saw? His best explanation was that he had been well loved - by his mother, by good friends. That love had prepared his heart to receive and believe the love of God so freely.


As you reflect on your life, do you find it easy to believe that you are fully loved by God?

Can you identify why you feel the way you do?


Where have you been loved well in your life? Who were those people and how did they love you?


In conversation with the loving Father, thank Him for that love. Ask that he would help is seep deeply into your heart and soul and change the way you love. Look at scripture. Identify the ways you are loved.


Week 1: Open your Bible (God’s love letter to you) and look for scripture that reminds you of how loved you are. Maybe go to the concordance in back or do a Google search. Write down a few that seem to stick out to you.

Week 2: Begin to think about how these truths can and do affect the way you are loved and the way you love.  Record your thoughts.

Week 3: Create a short list of names of people you want to love better. Ask God to help show you how to practically take steps towards that.

Week 4: Call or write or knock on the front door and move towards loving them - in simple, practical ways.


Opener: Who are the people in your life that have loved you the best?

Discussion: What did that look like? How has it affected who you are today?

Closer: Who are the folks that you are doing or could be doing that for today?