Knowing what is love is knowing that it comes from God. Just as we do for any important question about life, we begin with the Bible to find what God teaches us about love. Jesus himself said, "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command." (John 15: 13-14, Holy Bible, NIV)
Jesus teaches us that love begins with sacrifice, and it's exactly what He did at his first coming by sacrificing his own life for the salvation of any and all people who come to know him and accept him as savior. Jesus places great value on every human life, so much so that He gave his own life for the eternal sake of all humanity. Self-sacrifice is at the heart of every human relationship, beginning with the relationship each of us has with our savior Jesus!
God's love for us is absolutely unconditional. God doesn't love us because of anything that we are or aren't, or because we make him feel a certain way. In fact, on our own merit we are all pretty unlovable - we give him no real reason to love us at all! But since God is love, he indeed loves us without any condition!
Romantic love between partners is yet another precious gift from God in our daily lives. Simply put, romantic love is the happiness we get from doing things that we know give our partner joy and satisfaction, and knowing that it does so, makes us happy in return. We can see it, we can feel it, and we are constantly amazed by its power, its beauty, and even its mystery. But unlike God's love for us, this kind of love is indeed conditional - "I love you because of who and what you are to me..., because you make me feel..., because you make me want to give...."
Is knowing what is love the key to our happiness? By most accounts, the answer would be yes. When we are most honest with ourselves, we recognize that it's not money or things that we find "outside" of ourselves that bring us real happiness. No, it's something that we find "inside" of ourselves. It truly is a gift from God, and it's what He put into each and every one of us regardless of age, gender or background: our deepest, innermost desire. It's why relationship - with God and with one another - has always been one of our most basic and essential human needs. It's through our love relationships that we gain the complete experience, giving something so precious while receiving it at the same time.
So can we ever completely understand love? Can we define it and analyze it in some "text book" sort of way and pull it off the shelf whenever we want? Probably not, but our collective experience with its joys and heartbreaks, allows us to at least describe what it looks like, how we can appreciate it and how we can practice it. Like so many other things, we must practice it to become good at it!
Real love is just as precious as it is complex, and for so many, it’s also illusive. Where can we start? Well, first off is understanding that God is love as noted above, and to know what it means and why it's so important. Next is applying that truth as the keys to real love in our daily lives. And finally, we need to understand love vs. lust, so we don’t mistake one for the other and get side-tracked along the way.