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The word “love” may be one of the most misunderstood words in the English language. We can say we love our favorite foods, our old, broken-in jeans, or our family and friends, but the meaning the world assigns to it can be subjective. It’s defined as a feeling of deep affection or a great interest in something, but this only partially captures the definition. We begin to clearly understand love only when we study its biblical definition and application.
We can’t truly love others until we love ourselves first. It’s impossible to share something we don’t have. The world is full of empty people who never learned how to love, who are operating unaware that they have a vacuum in their hearts only God can fill. His kind of love goes far deeper than feelings or emotions and remains consistent no matter what. “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7, NLT).
We don’t learn love from television shows, movies, or popular culture, but from hearing it straight from God. He’s the essence of love itself, and a relationship with Him empowers us to do what we can’t do without Him. “We love each other because he loved us first” (1 John 4:19, NLT). Regardless of our marital status, we can truly show love for others when we let God teach us how.
When we believe that God is love and that He earnestly wants to be part of our lives, we will see everything from a whole new perspective. A change in thinking leads to a change in behavior. This new perspective eventually leads to more positive relationships. “And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:16).
Sometimes it’s hard to love ourselves when we listen too much to the world’s messages. We don’t need to internalize any negativity we hear because it comes from people who don’t know God’s nature. He made each and every one of us, and He doesn’t make any junk. “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well” (Psalm 139:14, NKJV). God created us deliberately and out of love for us.
Friendships based in fear or selfishness never seem to work out happily; they result in disappointment and emotional pain for all involved. But when we know that God loves us, the proper motives will be behind every relationship we cultivate. Letting His love guide us in everything we say and do brings success. “Let all that you do be done with love” (1 Corinthians 16:14, NKJV).
Loving and respecting ourselves allows us to interact with others the way Christ tells us to (Matthew 22:39; Mark 12:31). Because God loves and values us, we can love and value ourselves as human beings made in His image. A positive self-image and a strong sense of self-respect enable us to love and accept others, despite their flaws and shortcomings. This is love in its purest form.
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