As it happened, I discovered a great definition for the word “love” the same week as Valentine’s Day – the day of loooove. (or, more realistically , the day of chocolate and fake emotions). 😛
The definition that I discovered coms from a parenting class we are attending called “Grace Based Parenting” by Dr. Tim Kimmel. This is the definition of love that they give:
Love is the commitment of my will to your needs and best interests, regardless of the cost.
If asked, I would have said that love was a decision and not an emotion. A decision to care for someone other than ourselves…yet that definition pales in comparison to Dr. Kimmel’s definition.
In breaking down this new definition, you see that it has the decision part (“commitment of my will”) as well as other focused part (“your needs and best interests”). It also reflects the truth that love is not free. There is always a cost to love – a cost that someone has to pay as love is often inconvenient and sometimes very painful. Yet if we are committed to helping others with their needs (note that this means their actual needs, not their selfish or supposed needs) then the cost will be worth it (“regardless of the cost”).
Again, great stuff… However, there is one final test as to whether or not this definition holds out. Mainly, does this definition fit within Jesus’ commandments concerning love?
Let’s find out:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘make a commitment of your will to your neighbor needs and best interests, regardless of the cost and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, make a commitment of your will to your enemies needs and best interests, regardless of the cost and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. –Matthew 5:43-45
Jesus replied: “‘Make a commitment of your will to the Lord your God needs and best interests, regardless of the cost with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Make a commitment of your will to your neighbor needs and best interests, regardless of the cost just as you would do towards yourself.’All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” –Matthew 22:37-40
How about the famous “Love Passage” of St. Paul? Does this new definition fit within that passage as well? Let’s see. 🙂
The commitment of your will to each other’s needs and best interests, regardless of the cost, is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. The commitment of your will to each other’s needs and best interests, regardless of the cost, does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. -1 Corinthians 13:4-7
I think it fits…. and, perhaps even more importantly, I think it makes us stop and pay attention to those commandment more than the overused English word “love.”
Something to think about…