What is love?
Session 4 - The Gift Of Love:
The Story of Marius and Cosette
Yesterday was an interesting and (for many) challenging session. Rev. David anticipated this session would be a relatively ‘easy’ discussion topic compared to previous weeks. Wow! Was he blown away. Question 2 appeared to be the trigger and many participants shared some incredibly emotional experiences.
The session opened with the well known and oft used passage of scripture, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a,13, which reads:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Here are the questions and ‘virtuous’ answers…
1. What are your general observations about the above passage of Scripture?
The above passage from 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a,13 provides a clear and concise description of love. It highlights the key characteristics of love, such as patience, kindness, humility, selflessness, forgiveness, and truthfulness. It emphasises that love always protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres, and that it never fails. The passage also suggests that love is the greatest virtue and that it remains with us always, even after faith and hope have fulfilled their purpose.
2. Is there anything in Paul’s description of love that you find surprising, challenging, or difficult?
One aspect of Paul's description of love that may be challenging or difficult is the idea that love keeps no record of wrongs. This means that true love requires us to forgive and forget past wrongs committed by others towards us, and not hold grudges or seek revenge. This can be difficult, as our natural inclination may be to hold onto resentment and anger, but true love requires us to let go of these negative feelings and extend grace and forgiveness to others.
3. How is love a sign that God is present, active and at work in particular situations?
Love is a sign that God is present, active, and at work in particular situations because God is love (1 John 4:8). When we see selfless acts of kindness, forgiveness, compassion, and grace, we can recognize these as expressions of God's love working through individuals. Love enables people to overcome differences, bridge gaps, and build relationships, which ultimately bring people closer to God. Therefore, when we see love manifested in our lives and in the lives of others, we can be assured that God is present and at work in those situations.
4. Jesus highlights that the love of God and the love of our neighbour are the greatest commandments. How do we love God, how do we love our neighbour, and what is the connection between the two?
Jesus teaches that the love of God and the love of our neighbour are the greatest commandments (Matthew 22:36-40). To love God means to honour, worship, and obey Him. We can love God by spending time with Him in prayer, reading and studying His Word, and living a life that is pleasing to Him. To love our neighbour means to show kindness, compassion, and respect to others, regardless of their background, status, or beliefs. We can love our neighbour by serving them, helping them in their time of need, and treating them with dignity and respect.
The connection between the love of God and the love of our neighbour is that they are interdependent. Jesus said that loving our neighbour is like loving God (Matthew 25:40), and that when we love our neighbour, we are also loving God. This is because all people are made in the image of God, and when we love and serve others, we are also serving and honouring God. Therefore, loving God and loving our neighbour are not separate tasks but are intertwined and essential for living a life that reflects God's love and character.
5. How do we receive love, and how do we give it?
We receive love when others show us kindness, compassion, and care, and when they prioritise our well-being and happiness. Receiving love requires us to be open, vulnerable, and willing to accept the help and support of others. This can involve letting go of pride, fears, and insecurities and allowing others to show us love and care.
We give love by showing kindness, compassion, and care towards others, and by prioritising their well-being and happiness. This can involve acts of service, words of affirmation, physical touch, and quality time spent together. Giving love requires us to be selfless, generous, and willing to put others' needs above our own. This can involve making sacrifices, forgiving others, and extending grace and mercy.
Ultimately, both receiving and giving love require us to be intentional, sincere, and authentic in our actions and attitudes towards others. We should seek to love others as we would want to be loved, and to receive love with gratitude and humility.
The following is how Artificial Intelligence (AI) defines love using the above for context:
6. What is love?
Love is an all-encompassing virtue that encompasses patience, kindness, humility, selflessness, forgiveness, and truthfulness. It always protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres, and it never fails. Love is not merely an emotion or feeling but is an intentional action that requires sacrifice, commitment, and generosity. Love is ultimately rooted in God, who is the source and embodiment of love, and it reflects His character and nature. Therefore, love is the greatest virtue, and it should be the foundation and motivation for all our actions and relationships.