If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing. (NLT)
Trying to define love is impossible. We can only describe what a loving person might or might not do. We can only echo what Paul writes in this familiar passage: that love gives meaning to all the other things we do and say and feel.
People can so often assume that the state of “being in love” is the essence of love itself. Nothing at all wrong with being in love or falling in love, but feelings that accompany such love do not last.
C.S.Lewis once wrote in relation to marriage that being in love is the explosive power which gets the marriage going. But the quieter faithful love of willing commitment is the engine which keeps the marriage going. Being in love moved a couple to promise fidelity to each other; the quieter faithful love enables them to keep the promise.
The sort of love Paul speaks of is not at all merely a cool and deliberate act of the will, a grit your teeth obedience to the teaching and example of Jesus. It may involve passion and warmth, but is not dependent on these. It is possible to truly love someone even if we don’t particularly like them.
The famous Beatles song had the title “All You Need is Love”. There is a lot of truth in that, provided we give love its true meaning.