What is love? Is it a fluttering of the heart? A giddy feeling? A mind intoxicated by someone's charm? Many would answer yes to all three descriptions. We are all familiar with the story of handsome guy meeting beautiful girl and falling in love in each other. But what if the girl grows old--and we all do--and loses her beauty? What if she gains weight, experiences mood swings, and develops annoying little habits? Would the guy's love withstand the changes in her appearance, health, and behavior?

Too often, marriages that began in love grow stale when the early romantic feelings the couple had for each other subsides. Sweet talk gets replaced with bickering; minds that were once on each other are now more on outsiders; and ignorance of each other's feelings laces conversations. What has gone wrong? Didn't the couple love each other?

How could a love that felt so right in the beginning go so wrong? Well, let us go back to the question: "What is love?" Only when we identify what love truly is can we know why some relationships--not just romantic ones--wither.

Here is all what love is:

"Love is patient and is kind; love doesn't envy. Love doesn't brag, is not proud, doesn't behave itself inappropriately, doesn't seek its own way, is not provoked, takes no account of evil; doesn't rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails." (1 Corinthians 13:4-8, World English Bible)

Truly, what a precious gem love is! So love is not merely a feeling; love is what you do and give. It is the key in preventing and solving all disagreements and differences.

Without love, you are nothing, and nothing is profitable:

"If I speak with the languages of men and of angels, but don't have love, I have become sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but don't have love, I am nothing. If I dole out all my goods to feed the poor, and if I give my body to be burned, but don't have love, it profits me nothing." (1 Corinthians 13:1-3, WEB)

This is why the "love commandment" in the Bible is the most important principle, upon which all other principles are built. Here's what Jesus our Messiah said about the love commandment:

"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength. The second is this, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these." (Mark 12:30-31, American Standard Version)

In what ways can we show our love to one another? The Bible provides us with a few words of wisdom on how to love the people in our lives.

• First, we are to provide for our household: "But if anyone doesn't provide for his own, and especially his own household, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever." (1 Timothy 5:8)

We should use love from the bottom up, from inside out. This means that it should start from the smallest unit of society: the family. Nourished families make nourished societies. Even if someone lives alone, she can first develop this love in herself, for herself and others around her. As she shares this love with others, she will set a loving example after which others can model. This then becomes a ripple effect.

Why start love from the family? To answer this question, ask yourself: What would a house need in order to withstand weather, time, and age? Wouldn't the house need a strong foundation? It's the same with society--families are the foundation of society. Each family, or each individual for that matter, makes up the entire society. If each person fails, the entire society will fail. And if the foundation itself couldn't stand alone, it surely cannot support the superstructure. If a mother doesn't love her child, how could she truly love strangers?

• We are to treat an older man "as a father; the younger men as brothers; the elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, in all purity" and we should "honor widows." (1 Timothy 5:2, 3)

• Husbands are told, "Love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself up for it. Even so ought husbands also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his own wife loveth himself: for no man ever hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as Christ also the church. (Ephesians 5:25, 28-29, ASV) (The "church" means all the children of God.)

• To wives: "Let the wife see that she respects her husband." (Ephesians 5:33, WEB)

• To children: "Obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honor thy father and mother (which is the first commandment with promise), that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth." (Ephesians 6:1-3, ASV)

• To fathers: "Don't provoke your children to wrath, but nurture them in the discipline and instruction of the Lord." (Ephesians 6:4, WEB)

• Love everyone, even your enemies, for if "you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive back as much. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing back; and your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High..." (Luke 6:32-35)

Follow the love example of Jesus, who loved us so much that he died for us: "This is my commandment, that you love one another, even as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. I command these things to you, that you may love one another." (John 15:12, 13, 17)

Simply put, we should follow the golden rule: "As you would like people to do to you, do exactly so to them." (Luke 6:31)

When we love one another, it means we love God and Jesus: "If a man loves me, he will keep my word. My Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make our home with him. He who doesn't love me doesn't keep my words." (John 14:23-24)

Now the most important question is: How can we possess pure love? How can we obtain, experience, and give it?

The answer is found in this passage:

"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God, and knows God. He who doesn't love doesn't know God, for God is love. God is love, and he who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him." (1 John 4:7-8, 16, WEB)

When we know Jehovah God, we know love, for He is the very representation of love itself. When we love, we come from God. Only when we have God in our hearts can we have this love in ourselves, for remember what Jesus said:

"I am the vine. You are the branches. He who remains in me, and I in him, the same bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing." (John 15:5)

Since Jesus is the exact "image of the invisible God" (Colossians 1:15), to be attached to Jesus is to be abide in God, and when we abide in God, we will have love developed in us. Without Jesus in our hearts, we cannot bear the spiritual fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), and the first element in this fruit is love.

Certainly, we can develop love by ourselves, but only to a certain extent. Many of us have love, but how deep or how far can it go? On the other hand, the love that Jehovah wants to develop in each individual is a love that transcends all boundaries, that does not change along with life's circumstances, that endures forever.

Would you like to possess such enduring love? Well, then you know what to do! First exercise whatever love you do have, and read and study the Bible to apply its teachings to your daily living, then you will have this eternal love in you!

Author's Bio: 

Shirley Cheng (b. 1983), a blind and physically disabled award-winning author (with 21 book awards, including nine Parent to Parent Adding Wisdom Awards), motivational speaker, self-empowerment expert, poet, author of nine books (including "Do You Love Jehovah? God Almighty's Infinite Love & Wisdom to Propel You to Greatness"), contributor to twenty-two, and a parental rights advocate, has had severe juvenile rheumatoid arthritis since infancy. Owing to years of hospitalization, she received no education until age eleven. Back then, she knew only her ABCs and very simple English; other than that, her book knowledge was non-existent. However, after only about 180 days of special education in elementary school, she mastered grade level in all areas and entered a regular sixth grade class in middle school. Unfortunately, Shirley lost her eyesight at the age of seventeen. After a successful eye surgery, she hopes to earn multiple science doctorates from Harvard University. Visit http://www.shirleycheng.com for more inspiration.

Do you have questions about the Bible? Something you don't understand? Do you need a bit of guidance in developing a relationship with Jehovah? Then Shirley would like to help you! Please contact her via her site at http://www.shirleycheng.com and she would be more than glad to do her best to answer your questions! Never hesitate to ask questions, for no question about the Bible is ever too small or stupid.