What is Love? 3 Criteria to Clearly Define a Loving Act.

Many people try to define this term. Some will say,

“It is indefinable because God is love and we can never define God!”

Then how do you ever really know a loving act when you see one?

Some may relegate it to only one of the four loves as CS Lewis famously described in his book.

I think many of us know what a loving act is.
I think we all have a pretty clear idea of how to love people.

We have seen it many many times.

A mother preparing her baby for the cold wind outside. Love.
A person stooping down to help the grocery patron who has dropped all the groceries all over the parking lot. Love.
The boyfriend or girlfriend who sacrifices gas and time to visit the other. They are acting out of love.

But really, what is it?

But what’s at the motive for loving people?  The essence of the loving act. What makes a loving act a loving act?

I would argue that an act that is not motivated out of joy is not really a God honoring or loving act at all.

3 criteria’s of a loving act:

1. We do something for someone else that costs us something (Loving act)
2. We find joy in bring someone else joy (loving motivation #1)

All humanitarians know that. Money, resources, time, privilege, status etc.

3. We give to others hoping they might recognize the love they receive from us originated with Jesus. (loving motivation #2)

When we are so overwhelmed and filled with joy in God, love becomes the overflow of joy in God that out of joy, we meet the needs of others.

We love because we have received and we cannot help but respond with that love to others. We want people to glorify God through out acts.

We meet others needs joyfully because we are filled with the immeasurable love of God in our lives.

Motives are crucial in this process, and everyday I want you to be motivated more and more by joy flowing from Gods immeasurable love, instead of an attempt to (exaggerated tone) make people think you are better than you are.

I don’t want you to mow another lawn out of this wrong motivation. I don’t want you to move another persons home furniture out of wrong motivation. I don’t want you to go to another party or stay at that party out of wrong motivation for fear that people will think you are doing a loving act, when in fact –in your heart- are not.

Anything to add or take away from this criteria?

10 thoughts on “What is Love? 3 Criteria to Clearly Define a Loving Act.

  • I would add that love also has to do with how you esteem the object of your love. We will naturally love those things that we value. Thus, the key to loving others is to value them as beings made in the image of God.

    • thanks skip,

      And what conclusion did you come to skip? Any clarifications or additions to the criteria I laid out?

  • David, I really like your blog.

    Whenever you are talking about Agape love, one can’t help but include Paul’s definition from 1 Corinthians 13. It just so happens I’m in the middle of a series on what love is right now.

    If an act fits within that construct, I would say it is good to go. God is the only one who can truly know a man’s heart, but you would be very hard pressed to fake it past that test.

  • acts of love cost us something and are motivated by joy for others that they might see Jesus through the acts. so, i’m gathering, acts with wrong motivations are not really acts of love. then my question is “who judges our motivations?”

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