Text: 1 Jn. 4:7-17
Title: What is Love?
Subj.: Love in relationships (Youth)

1 Jn. 4:7-17 -- “What is Love?“ -- Prayer

Introd.: The Bible says, “…for God is love.  [and] if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another [in the same way God loves us].”
   Love, the universal language of the heart, can elevate to the highest heights, and depress to the lowest depths.  A famous writer said, “We are shaped and fashioned by what we love.”  And each of you will love, and be shaped and fashioned by what or who you love. 
   It is interesting that the dictionary definition of “love” is based on the emotional response of a male for a female (or visa versa), and defines love in the shallowest of terms.  As Christians, we are not interested in elevating the emotional side, since that side is the slippery side of our beings.  The emotional side cannot be trusted, but only experienced.  The emotional side is not an answer to a situation, but a reaction.  Emotions give you feelings, but not fulfillment. The emotional side is not stable, but unstable.  That is why you “fall in love.” No relationship can successfully be built on emotional love.  No marriage can survive on emotional love.  A philosopher said, “We owe to the Middle Ages the two worst inventions of humanity--romantic (emotional) love and gunpowder.” 
The Bible says, “…for God is love.  [and] if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another [in the same way God loves us].”
     For the Christian, though emotions are involved, it is the mind and will that are to be the controlling influence in your decision to “love” another person.  And more important than your decision is the involvement of the Holy Spirit in each step of the process of love.  And love is normally a process. 
   The “love process” starts when you are first attracted by the outward looks of a person, or some outward circumstances.  You could “fall in love” with someone simply because he/she is the only one paying attention to you, or because he or she is the only one “available.”  Or you could fall in love with someone because you have a need to be loved and accepted, especially as a teen.  You want to “fit in,” and having a boyfriend/girlfriend is kind of the ultimate expression of your worth.  In my youth we called this “puppy love,” and Paul Anka wrote a song about it. (“Ron, give me a “C””)  The person fills a void in your life and so you “love” him or her.  And, by the way, that void in your life was placed there by God, but it is how you choose to fill it that makes the difference!  If you choose a life-mate based on “puppy love” you are going to live a dog’s life!
   The second phase of “falling in love” is finding a soul mate.  That means someone who has the same goals, purposes, plans, and vision for life that you have.  It is someone going in the same direction you are going, which could be good or bad depending on your direction.  The emotions are still involved, but they do not hold sway over your ultimate decision. And notice that I said “decision,” for godly love is a decision and not a diversion. I think you can see how “puppy love” is immature, while finding a soul mate involves making a mature decision.  It is not love at first sight, but love after deep thought. It is affirming your love to someone that has your best interests at heart, and you have his or her best interests at heart also.  It is the love of a journey and not the lust of a moment.  The result of this “love” is, or could be marriage.  Or the result of this love could be waiting to wed based on God’s perfect timing and purpose.  This love finds two people on a journey of service for God.
   The third phase of “love” is undying commitment to your soul mate.  This usually occurs after you have pledged your life to him or her in the bonds of holy matrimony.  It is a love based on your desire to fulfill his or her needs at your expense.  It is living your life so that another prospers under your care.  The Bible puts it this way,

“Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.  Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it”  (Eph. 5)

It is saintly, satisfying, sanctifying, sacrificial love. It is the love of one man or one woman for another man or woman for a lifetime.  The old marriage vows of the church say, “Forsaking all others, I, Mary Sue, take thee, Billy Bob, to my lawful husband, to have and to hold, from this day forth; for better, for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health; to love, cherish and obey, till death do us part.”

It is love based, not on the circumstances of life, which are always changing, but on the unchanging vow you made to your spouse at the altar, in the presence of God.  It is the love that sees two people through the times of trouble and heartbreak.  It is the love that cares for another during times of sickness and death.  It is the love that sacrifices self--it is God’s love lived out in our lives for the sake of another.   Beecher said, “We never know how much one loves till we know how much he is willing to endure and suffer for us: and it is the suffering element that measures love.”

The Bible says, “…for God is love.  [and] if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another [in the same way God loved us].”

  One reason the Holy Spirit choose to record the N.T. in Greek is the exactness of the language.  Where English has one word for “love,” Greek has three.   Here are the 3 Greek words and their meanings.

 Eros = self-centered love.  Love that says, “what’s in it for me?”  Sensual, sexual, secular, worldly love (Eph. 2:3)

Phileo = selfless love.  Love that says, “I want to travel the same road toward the same goals with you.  Deep and true friendship, and/or marriage love (Jn. 21:15b)

Agape = self-sacrificing love.  Love that says, “No matter your response, I will sacrifice myself for your sake.  Sacrificial love (Jn. 21:15a).

   Now let’s put these definitions to work.

1. Here Rover, here Rover!  Good boy--I love you so much!

2. Golly, I sure love _______________.  I sure hope she loves me too!

3. ____________, I love you, and if it is in God’s will and purpose for us, I want to marry you someday.

3. ___________, will you marry me?  I love you more than life itself, and I want to walk the pathway of life with only you!

4. Honey, here let me do that for you--you look so tired!

5. Sweetheart, the dr. says you are in the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s, and I will be there to walk with you every step of the way

 How can you tell that you are experiencing eros or puppy love?

1. Your parents are not in favor of your choice, or you choose someone just to aggravate your parents.

2. Your choice is seeking to drag you away from God, in even the smallest detail (the Devil is in the details).

3. Marriage to this person would violate God’s command not to be unequally yoked

4. Your friends are lukewarm or warn you about your relationship with this person

5. You find yourself making excuses for the attitudes, actions, and direction of this person

6. You tell yourself that you, and you alone, can change this person to be what he or she should be

7. You are willing to give up things you know to be right to be with this person, or be “loved” by this person

8. This person makes demands of you that are not spiritually motivated

 “By the time you swear you’re his, shivering and sighing,

And he vows his passion is infinite, undying

--young lady, make a note of this:

One of you is lying--!”  (Dorothy Parker)

 Concl:  “The heart of him who truly loves is a paradise on earth; he has God in himself, for God is love.”  Young people, guard your heart your emotions, and your love, for thieves seek to break in and steal it and all your virtue.  Love another based on mutual obedience to God’s Word, or love not at all!  The joys of this life are all based on sacrifice, so desire nothing less than sacrificial love from your suitors.  It is better to be dead than wed to a deceiver.  Jude 1:21  “Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.”

  I. God loved us (v11)

 II. God’s love is perfected in us (v12)

 III. God’s love is the fruit of His Spirit (v13)

 IV. God’s love is proven by the death of His Son (v14-15)

 V. God is love (v16)

 VI. God’s love perfects us (v17)

 VII. God’s love protects us (v18) [from fear]

 VIII. God’s love propels us (v19)

 IX. God’s love proves us (v20)

 X. God’s love commands us (v21)

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