Slightly Obsessed #127: The Overused, Misunderstood Four-letter Word

For God so loved the world…

Recently I saw this posted on social media by a stranger: “Please don’t be offended if I don’t reply or follow you. But I love you!”

Uh, okay.

I pondered the introduction. This person wanted me to know he may or may not decide to ever communicate with me. But he loved me. With an exclamation mark.  

Please excuse my confusion.

It really is overused, that four-letter word we call love. Nowadays, it can mean almost anything. As long as it’s happy and distant. We don’t let most people near enough to hurt us, nor do we plan on sacrificing for them.

What is love, anyway? No one does a better job of explaining it than the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 13. But I can tell you what love isn’t.

  • Love isn’t good at remembering our mistakes.

  • Love isn’t going to speak an insult that devastates someone else.

  • Love isn’t used as a tool to stonewall honest communication. True love seeks the highest good for its beloved, which sometimes necessitates confronting an issue with the goal of resolution and reconciliation.

  • Love isn’t a feeling.

  • Love isn’t a paper bag we hide inside to keep from having to see, and therefore discern, good from evil.

  • Love can’t survive and grow without nurturing.

Is a general feeling of goodwill toward others really love? Can we love without giving? Is love even possible without action?

The Bible tells us God loved us when we were the most unlovable. He cared so much He gave His very best, the sacrificial gift of His own Son. He understood the suffering required for our redemption, and He was willing to pay the price. Even when we turn that most magnificent of words into a lifeless cliché, He still loves us.

Imagine what could happen if we loved the world so much that we gave. What kind of homes and churches and businesses and relationships could we have if love was more than an overused, four-letter word for us?

John 3:16 tells us that God’s giving resulted in everlasting life for those who believe. Love equals life.

And that’s a beautiful word.


…that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.

– John 3:16

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