What is love?

90's dance artist Haddaway wrote a song "What is love" which became an instant hit, and in it he sings,

What is love?
Baby don't hurt me,
Don't hurt me
No more.
Baby don't hurt me,
Don't hurt me
No more.
What is love?

It seems that all he could think of when thinking of love was the hurt he'd been through in previous relationships. And that's but one of many thousands of love songs sung throughout the centuries. But they all have different answers to the question, "what is love?"

Many songs talk about, "feeling your arms around me," and others about, "making love tonight," but is that really love?

As a married man, one who has known his wife for a few years before they got married, I think I have a fair understanding of what REAL love is about. It's the type of love that is mentioned in 1 Corinthians 13, particularly these verses:

4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8Love never fails.

I  think the part that most people fail is the "Love ... is not self-seeking." How many of these love songs talk about the person being loved? Far less than those that talk about the person doing the "loving". Also, how many of these artists in real life have successful marriages, admirable lifestyles and true happiness? Interestingly enough, almost none of them.

Perhaps for clarification we should look at all the attributes of real love and see what they mean for us in real life.

Love is patient
What is your attitude toward your loved one when they can't get something right or they don't understand you? Do you moan and complain? Or do you patiently explain it to them again for the umpteenth time?
Love is kind
Do you have an attitude of kindness toward your partner? Or are a number of your remarks and actions just plain cruelty? What about if you've broken up with your boy/girl friend? ARe you nasty to them?
[Love] does not envy
Are you jealous of other guys around your girlfriend? Are you catty towards the female friends of your boyfriend?
[Love] does not boast
So you've got a girlfriend, and she's the prettiest girl in the school. Do you go around telling everyone that you're dating the most beautiful girl in the school? Do you tell everyone how great your relationship with your boyfriend is and how it's better than anyone elses?
[Love] is not proud
I think this is self explanatory. Pride and love do not ride in the same boat.
[Love] is not rude
Another self-explanatory one, rudeness is despised by most people and often seen as a sign of disrespect. Anything but love.
[Love] is not self-seeking
What are you getting out of love? Is love all about you and your enjoyment, or about the other person? If you really love that person, you will go out of your way to make sure that they are happy and feeling truly loved all the time. Real love is about the other person, not about you. Divorce is self-seeking, "I'm not getting what I want out of this marriage!"
[Love] is not easily angered
Do you get angry quickly with your spouse? Do you yell or growl at them when they upset you?
[Love] keeps no record of wrongs
An argument comes up, and what do you do? Bring up all the old dirty laundry and wave it in your partner's face? Love keeps no record of wrong, so real love won't do that.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in truth
Are you careful to do right and eager keep your partner in the right too? If your partner is doing something wrong, do you gently reprimand them?
[Love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres
Do you protect your spouse? Do you trust them implicitly? Do you persevere in your marriage through all the rough times? These are all signs of real love - the others-focused love.

I know this passage is used often (and most often at weddings), but I do believe that it's a very important point. This passage was actually written as part of Paul's first letter to the Corinthians. Paul had heard reports of what was going on there, and the Corinthians were not behaving like Christians should, and so in this passage Paul was telling them how to love like Christ loves. It also shows us how we should be living and loving others.