Most Noble Aspects of Love

By the Rev. Jose Oliveira, M. Div

Love is the noblest and least understood human feeling. From the outset, we recognize that even the definition of love is difficult. Love has been compared to almost everything in life, even to things that clearly has nothing to do with love. For example, the confession of a “lover”: "I killed her because I loved her very much." Is it love? Certainly there are many different ways to define love, but at this time I would like to point out which, in my opinion, are the noblest aspects of love.

First: Love is a daily decision. Passion can be a sensation, sex is the result of an attraction, but I believe one word that best defines love is "decision." Some people may disagree with that, as it may seem that if we define love as a decision is to make it a very rational and unromantic thing. Yes, in my opinion, love is intelligent and romance is not an attribute of love, but rather a type of relationship, of the romantic kind, one between a man and a woman, for example. Romanticism cannot be an attribute of love, for "romantic love" is just an expression of universal love. Love is a specific decision to give an important place or make someone or something important in your life. When God decided to create human beings, it was a love-decision, since humans are so important to God. To love is to make somebody, besides yourself, important to you, in your life. Jesus said we should love everyone; this is only possible when we consider all human beings as our brothers and sisters because we are all children of the same Father, and all therefore equally important before God. You can make a decision to love a person for the rest of your life, but for this love to be real, you have to update it every day, making it a daily decision, or even a minute decision, that endorses your first decision. You can love whoever you want, because it depends only on your sole decision. Why, then, not love everyone?

Second: Love is unconditional devotion. Devotion, as some of us might know, comes from Latin, de- and vovere, "promise." From the Latin dēvōtus devoted, solemnly promised, from dēvovēre to vow; de- , vow ]. Devotion is correlated to “vote” from the Latim, votum, "a vow, wish, promise, dedication," of votus, pp. of vovere "to promise, dedicate”*. There are some religious meanings to it, as well; but, for my immediate purposes, I want to focus on this meaning of “vote”, rather the religious ones. "What is voting? Vote means to make a commitment. When you make a vow, you take a pledge. When you vote for any politician for any office, you are committing to that person and his or her political program; you are giving your support. Devotion is to devote yourself to someone, is to promise yourself to give your support that person. In the same way, to love somebody is a promise you make that you will support that person unconditionally. This does not mean that you will endorse the errors of that person, but it means that you will love him or her even when his or her decisions and actions are wrong. It means you will not abandon that person (as many do) when they make mistakes. If God would abandon us because of our mistakes, no one could count on God’s love, because we all err. Love is devotion, commitment, continuing supporting, despite the flaws, mistakes of our loved ones. That is why the apostle Paul said: "Love never ceases," because love stops at nothing. Sure, our first and paramount devotion is to God. But, if you love God, you might already know that the best way to show our love to God is by your commitment to love every human being.

 

Third: Love is unreservedly dedication. To some, dedication and devotion may be the same thing. But I see an important distinction between them: devotion is an attitude, a promise, a vow; dedication is action, behavior, performance – it is shown. What is the difference between promise and delivery? It is that the latter gives substance to the former. Love is to surrender, to give it to someone; it’s to become a means of blessings to others. A great example of dedication we generally find in mothers. A mother gives herself to her children so intensely that sometimes borders on irrationality. However, Jesus is our supreme example of dedication, because nobody dedicated (bestowed) his life so completely for the spiritual benefit of all human beings, like he did. His, was a so absolute dedication that sometimes he even would forget the basic needs of life such as eating, drinking, sleeping, resting… Love is a radical dedication without expecting compensation. The reward of who loves someone is the very giving of love and the joy of watching the loved ones being blessed with such love. True love shows is capable of even a sacrificial surrender – no matter what the cost, even the lover’s very life –; who loves gives his or her own life for the loved one, because there is no greater dedication (and satifaction) than love itself.

I seriously believe that decision, devotion and dedication are the most noble and important aspects of love. Love is not a childish or romantic whim. To love is to make someone important to you, in your life. Love is not something inconsequential like, "I see what I can do." Love is devotion, is commitment, serious and unconditional support. Love is not selfish, on the contrary, is tireless dedication, unreservedly self-surrender to other. Love is to serve others with heart and soul, which shows supreme love to God’s will, because it is God’s will that we love each other indistinctly. Love is indeed the most noble and important human feeling. Love attracts love, and only when we genuinely love others we are really happy. Let us always remember: love never fails, love is unconditional, and love is priceless. Finally, let’s keep in mind that if on comparing our love to the above described, if it falls short from this ideal, it does not mean we do not love, but simply that our love is, as we all are, imperfect, and perfect love is a rather goal to achieve, which we know is possible, because Jesus of Nazareth exhibited it in his life.

 

Rev. Jose Oliveira, the author of this article, is a Presbyterian minister, living in the United States, and the director of the Illinois Theological Seminary, an online theological school with several programs in Theology and Philosophy. If you would like to receive more information about its courses in theology and philosophy, please click the link below.
Illinois Theological Seminary

* vote. Dictionary.com. Online Etymology Dictionary. Douglas Harper, Historian. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/vote (accessed: March 28, 20

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