This blog has been buzzing with talk of love recently. In case you missed the previous posts, here’s a recap:
You’d think with all of that talk of love, we would have everything figured out. But true love isn’t easy to define, and it isn’t always easy to recognize. Our feelings can be especially tricky in this area. We can feel something that seems like love only to discover later that it was something closer to lust or infatuation. If we can’t trust our feelings, how can we know if someone truly loves us?
Here’s how we answered that question in The Bare Facts:
There are two litmus tests I recommend for recognizing genuine love.
First, if you have a loving, intimate relationship with your parents, talk to them about your relationship. Your parents, specifically your dad, will probably be able to recognize a healthy, loving relationship before you do. Loving parents have great insight into what a healthy relationship looks like for their kids …
If you cannot ask your parents for their advice about your relationships, there is another way—one found in Scripture—to gauge whether or not you are experiencing true love.
One New Testament passage, 1 Corinthians 13, always comes up when Christians are talking about love. That’s because this passage provides a template for what true love is. It shows us, in clear terms, what we should be looking for in a loving relationship. Instead of simply relying on feelings to tell us when we’ve encountered love, this passage gives us a map of what true love looks like and provides a standard by which we can measure our actions and feelings.
Check out verses 4–7:
Love is patient,
love is kind
and is not jealous;
love does not brag
and is not arrogant,
does not act unbecomingly;
it does not seek its own,
is not provoked,
does not take into account a wrong suffered
does not rejoice in unrighteousness,
but rejoices with the truth;
bears all things,
believes all things,
hopes all things,
endures all things. (NASB)
A practical way to apply this passage if you are in a dating relationship is to substitute your partner’s name in place of “love.” For example, if Andrea is starting a relationship with Matt, she would substitute his name in the passage like this:
Mat is patient,
Matt is kind,
Matt is not jealous,
Matt does not brag,
Matt is not arrogant,
Mat does not act unbecomingly, etc.
… God’s Word provides the simplest definition of love—to protect and provide. True love always, without exception, seeks the best interest of the loved one. Its motivation is always to protect and provide. How can you know if you are truly loved? Does your partner do everything possible to provide for your well-being and protect your heart? Do you do the same for him? If not, take some time to allow God to teach you how to love others well and to wait for true love in His timing (The Bare Facts, 93–95).
Can you think of any other litmus tests for recognizing genuine love? I’d love to hear about them, especially if they are rooted in God’s truth!