Teaching the Meaning of Love

Webster tells us that LOVE is: a strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties.

What are your thoughts on that definition? My first reaction was, “Huh. Really? That’s interesting.” Is that really the meaning of LOVE?

I think all parents want to teach their children to love other people regardless of religious, or no religious, background. Parents want their children to model love and kindness to others. But let’s dissect this definition for a moment.

a strong affection = a strong feeling

for another = for another person

arising out of = forming because of

kinship or personal ties = friendship or some sort of common background, like family

Is this really what love is? A strong feeling for another person forming because of friendship or some sort of common background?

My Bible tells me that LOVE = GOD. {1 John 4:16} Whoa. That is quite different than what Webster tells us.

If you haven’t read the book of 1 John recently, I highly recommend it. In chapter 2, John tells us what NOT to love. We are not to love the world or the things of the world. The world is passing away. It is temporary.

I also know from my Bible that all people are sinners. They have all missed the mark and are not perfect in any way. {Romans 3:23} So people do not equal God. If God equals love, but people to not equal God, then how do people love?

Let’s see what 1 John has to say: [excerpts from The Message]

“But the one who keeps God’s word is the person in whom we see God’s mature love. This is the only way to be sure we’re in God.” {2:5}

“Anyone who claims to live in God’s light and hates a brother or sister is still in the dark. It’s the person who loves brother and sister who dwells in God’s light,” {2:9-10}

This is how we’ve come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves. If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God’s love? It disappears. And you made it disappear.” {3:16-17}

“My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love.” {3:18}

“Again, this is God’s command: to believe in his personally named Son, Jesus Christ. He told us to love each other, in line with the original command.” {3:23}

“My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know him if you don’t love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God.” {4:7-10}

Webster’s Dictionary shows us that there is a worldly definition of love. We see this type of love exemplified all over the place in movies, television shows, billboards, YouTube, and Facebook. Yet that love is not REAL love. God’s love is real love. And when God’s people LOVE others in a sacrificial way, that is REAL LOVE.

1 Corinthians 13

Love is not an emotion or a strong feeling. Although emotion can play a part.

Love is not gradually formed and based upon who a person is, or something a person does. Although there are times when love does need to grow.


Love, REAL love is a choice. It’s a sacrificial choice. It’s putting others before our own needs and wants. It’s going out of our way to help those in need. And if we parents want to teach our children to love this way, then we must exemplify it.

The greatest example I have seen, so far in my life, of this type of love has been shown by my mother-in-law. It was amazing to watch her. She never complained and 1 Corinthians 13 unfolded before my eyes. Watching her challenged me as a wife, and a mother.

Love others. Then watch your children love others. It’s humbling!

Have you recently seen an example of God’s True love?

businesscardheadshotAnne Marie is an Austenite and the author of the blog Future.Flying.Saucers. She is a southern belle who is married to her Mr. Darcy. They have three of the silliest children in South Carolina. Anne Marie has a passion for Bible study and teaching the Word to adults and children. On Wednesday nights you will find her teaching Biblical concepts to Awana clubs at her church. All of her Awana and Bible lessons can be found for FREE on her blog. You can also find her on Facebook.