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What is true love and how do you know when you have found it?


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“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, 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.” —I Corinthians 13:4-8a (NIV)

Couple. Illustration copyrighted. Used by permission from Bill Zeeb.This verse describes the characteristics of true love. These qualities can certainly be found in the person of Jesus Christ, and they can be found in all truly loving relationships. The problem with trying to “find” love in our dating lives, is that too often we don't look for these characteristics. Rather we look at physical appearance, popularity, or wealth. These are not the qualities that God looks at and neither should we.

But the LORD said to Samuel, “…The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
I Samuel 16:7b (NIV)

Love is best seen as devotion and action, not an emotion. Love is not exclusively based on how we feel. Certainly our emotions are involved, but they cannot be our only criteria for love. True devotion will always lead to action—true love.

Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with ACTIONS and in truth.
      I John 3:18 (NIV)

Christ was devoted to us enough to give his own life for us (Romans 5:8), even when he didn't feel like it (Matthew 26:39).

Sex is not love! Our culture has taught us that sex and love are one in the same. This is a lie. Sex is a beautiful God-given activity that is wonderful when practiced within the boundaries of a Biblical marriage. Sex is the completion of the binding of two people within Biblical marriage; it is a God-given gift.

Pre-marital sex

Because premarital sex is not love, it only leads to pain and disappointment for those who are seeking that love. The Bible says that when two people are married, they become one flesh (Ephesians 5:31). Sex is consummation of that union. When two people break off their relationship after having sex, it is like ripping apart flesh. This is why two teenagers will struggle so much and become so dependent on those they give their bodies to. In light of I Corinthians 13:4-8 (above), it is easy to see that premarital sex is not patient, it is not kind, it does not protect, it is self-seeking. It is not love!

Identifying true love

We can only identify true love and know when we have found it, based on the Word of God. When we match our relationships up to what the Bible says that love is—and we are honestly prepared to make a life-long commitment to that person—then we can say that we are truly “in love.” The three keys to that statement are:

We have to…

  1. …look at the Word of God
  2. …be completely honest with ourselves
  3. …understand the level of commitment that comes with true love

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Further information

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  • Is formalized marriage becoming obsolete? Answer

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