The biblical meaning of the word love seems so far from how we define it today. We usually use it to express affection, emotion, pleasure, or happiness for something or someone. It’s conditional and connotes approval.
Biblically speaking, love does not mean, “I approve of everything you do,” Rather, it means, “I accept you in spite of what you do.” There’s a difference between acceptance and approval. If you’re a believer, then we are called to love our neighbor as ourselves. That means we are to accept everyone without approving of everything they do. Why? Because that’s how God loves us.
In the epistle of 1 Corinthians, the apostle Paul wrote, perhaps, the most the most familiar and cherished lines on love ever written, chapter 13 verse 13. In fact, the entire letter is a testimony to the way we are to love others. Let’s enjoy it in its entirety for its simplicity and beauty.
1 Corinthians 13, a letter from the apostle Paul to the church in Corinth written between 53-55 A.D.
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.
As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.
When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.