How Does God Define Love?

By Melissa McLaughlin

The World’s Definition of Love

I swayed to the rhythm and hummed along, “What’s love got to do with it? What’s love but a second-hand emotion?”

Recently, while sitting in the waiting room at my doctor’s office, I listened to the lyrics of songs playing softly in the background. The repeating theme was love.

I couldn’t help but notice, “love” as described in these songs was based on two things: feelings and sexual lust.

This made me stop and think. What is love really? Can we boil it all down to feelings or emotions? Is it simply a sexual desire or physical attraction? Certainly that is all I hear from the world around me.

However, given the powerful force of love, perhaps we should think more deeply. Perhaps we should go to the source.

God is the Source of Love

God, the Creator of everything, is also the Author and Designer of love.

God is the Source of love.

Memories of Love

My first memories of love were from my parents. I remember feeling safe, cared for and loved.

What did that love look like? Providing shelter, food, water without any reimbursement from me. Helping me learn to walk, talk and take care of myself. There were hugs, bedtime stories and games at the kitchen table. My parents offered words of wisdom, guidance and encouragement. And yes, sometimes their love included correction and discipline.

Why does real love include correction and discipline?

Real love sets healthy boundaries, according to God’s Word.

Where do we learn of this kind of love? From the Source of all love, God.

Differentiating Like, Lust and Love

It is important to differentiate between like, lust and love.

Like is a feeling or emotion. (I like chocolate cake. That’s how I feel about it.)

Lust is a desire or craving, often sexual in nature. (A person may lust after another based on outward appearance or physiological response.)

Love, God-ordained love, is vastly different.

God is Love

Though the world defines love as a feeling, emotion or lustful desire, love is an attribute of our Holy God.

God is love. But God is also Holy, righteous, just, faithful, true, living, merciful, compassionate and more. He is Yahweh, the Great I AM.

How does God define love in His Word?

Love is a Decision

Love is a decision (not an emotion or sexual lust).

Love is a decision to do what is best for another, according to God’s Word.

Love, as defined by God, is a decision to compassionately, righteously and responsibly seek the wellbeing of another, in ways that lead them to their eternal good. (Definition from sermon by Tony Evans.)

What does Godly love look like?

God’s love is most clearly demonstrated by Jesus Christ paying the penalty for our sins on the cross.

Love is Sacrificial Actions for Eternal Good

Notice the sacrificial action words in these scriptures about Godly love.

  • Romans 5:8 – But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (NIV)
  • 1 John 3:16 – This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. (NIV)
  • 1 Peter 2:24 – He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. (ESV)
  • John 14:15 – If you love me, obey my commandments. (Words of Jesus.) (NLT)
  • John 14:23 – Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. (NIV)
  • 1 John 2:15-17 – Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. (NKJV)

How Does God Define Love?

As the world celebrates self-gratification, emotions and lust…

May we step away and remember these truths.

  • God is love.
  • His love is
  • pure,
  • holy,
  • righteous,
  • sacrificial,
  • faithful.

God’s love is real love.

  • Abiding love.
  • Committed love.
  • Sacrificial love.
  • True love.

How Does God Define Love?

God’s love is refining, not indulgent.

God defines love with actions and decisions to bring about His best for another person.

God’s love draws you to salvation in His Son and an ever-closer walk with Him. A love that lasts forever.

  • 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
  • Love 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.
  • Love does not delight in evil
  • but rejoices with the truth.
  • It always protects,
  • always trusts,
  • always hopes,
  • always perseveres.

Additional Resources

Inspiration for this article came from Understanding God’s Love – Sermon by Tony Evans.

A God Who is Both: Loving and Holy, Savior and Judge By Melissa McLaughlin

Let Jesus Love You By Melissa McLaughlin

28 thoughts on “How Does God Define Love?”

  1. We make God’s live such a trivial things. It is something we can fully comprehend. But I am so thankful for it and blessed by it. Thanks Melissa

  2. God’s love is the most powerful source of love in the universe. Its power trumps everything, wooing our hearts, gaining our devotion, and changing our lives and our eternity. God’s love never fails us. You’ve detailed this so well Melissa.

    • Love this, Melinda “God’s love is the most powerful source of love in the universe. Its power trumps everything, wooing our hearts, gaining our devotion, and changing our lives and our eternity. God’s love never fails us.”
      When we gaze upon the sacrifice of Christ on our behalf, we begin to understand the vastness and faithfulness of God’s love that goes beyond our imagining.

  3. God’s love is so great that we never fully comprehend it. We grow in our understanding of it but then, sometimes, it slips away because it is so much higher than our love. Faith helps us recapture that. Maybe that’s why it says in Jude, “Keep yourself in the love of God.” By faith, accept what has always been true.

  4. Beautiful piece, Melissa. God’s definition of love does differ vastly from the world’s view. And we overuse the word: We “love” sports teams, books, movies, food and so on. I enjoyed how you noted that love is an action and not lust or sexual desire. And this is wonderful, “God’s love is most clearly demonstrated by Jesus Christ paying the penalty for our sins on the cross.”

    • I appreciate your kind words and support, Karen. All glory to God! God’s love is so very different from the world’s view and if we don’t saturate ourselves in His Word, we will easily get swept along by the songs, movies, media and expressions of worldly emotions and lust that bombard us day after day. His love is pure, refining, abiding and true. A love like no other. A love poured out for us on the cross.

  5. Well said! Thank you for giving such a clear and clean truth. Scripture is so vital to helping us grasp such an important definition as this one on what love is. Beautiful post. Thank you for sharing.

    • Thank you, Melinda! I appreciate your love for Christ and the beautiful truth of His Word. And for your kindness to me. God’s Word is so rich and life-giving. May His Word, truth and divine love continue to grow in us. Blessings to you and your family!

  6. This is something I have been thinking a lot about – the songs, the movies, the easy use of the word for the most random things. This is such a great piece bringing it all together to point to the truth of love defined and love embodied!

  7. Si8ng Glory Glory Hallelujah too our Sister in JESUS Melissa!!

    Happy Shabbat Shalom ( Peaceful Sabbath ) Everyone!! Also, Happy Shavua Tov ( Good Week ) Everyone!! 💕 Shalom ( Peace ) Everyone!!

    Shalom Aleichem and Mazel Tov Everyone!! 💕

    I Love 💕 you all Everyone through Jesus-Yeshua Christ, because 💕 HE LOVED EVERYONE FIRST 💕!! Praise Jesus-Yeshua Christ for Today and Everyday!!


    Love 💕 Always and Shalom, YSIC \o/

    Kristi 1611 AV


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