Summary: Believe it or not, love is hard for the world to define. Even psychology and psychiatry have difficulty explaining it. But God doesn’t. Why is that so?
OPEN: A visiting Revivalist was impressed by an older couple in the church where he was holding Revival. The wife seemed to be half-turned toward her husband holding both his hands in hers. Every time he looked toward them he was impressed by the fact they were holding hands.
After the service and remarked, “You 2 are an inspiration. Acting like teenagers in love! You even held hands all through the service.”
The wife, with an exasperated look, retorted, “That’s not love, preacher. It’s the only way I can keep him from cracking his knuckles.”
APPLY: The wife had declared… “That’s not love…”
I. (pause…) Well… what is love?
ILLUS: Years ago, there was a woman named Helen Keller. She had completely lost her sight as a child because her doctor had given her wrong medication. Just 3 months shy of her 7th birthday, she met a woman that changed her life - a teacher named Ann Sullivan.
Helen tells about their 1st meeting:
“The morning after my teacher came she led me into her room and gave me a doll… When I had played with it a little while, Miss Sullivan slowly spelled into my hand the word, D-O-L-L. I was excited when I finally spelled the word myself. And I ran downstairs to show my mother.”
Several days later, Miss Sullivan spilled cold water onto Helen’s hand and THEN spelled out the word W-A-T-E-R. In this way, Helen Keller learned to spell 100s of words.
Then one day Sullivan spelled out the word LOVE in Helen’s hand. Perplexed, Helen spelled back “W-H-A-T I-S L-O-V-E?”
You’d think that as much as people SENSE the need of being loved and TALK about being in love, that there would be an “easy” definition of what love is.
(pause) But apparently there isn’t.
ILLUS: Some time back, there was a book written based upon an extensive study of the topic of love in psychiatry and psychology, and the authors wrote that “in spite of a few remarkable contributions, we can definitely state that love has NOT been the object of much psychological or psychiatric research.
Most of what we know about it comes either from our limited private experiences or from the insights that poets, novelists, playwrights, and artists...
With rare exceptions, in the indexes of most psycho-analytic, psychiatric, and psychological books and textbooks we do not find an entry for the word love.
And even such important cultural media as the Encyclopedia Britannica and the Columbia Encyclopedia has no articles about this subject.”
Why? Why would love be so hard to define?
I believe it is because the psychiatric world wasn’t looking at love as an “objective reality” that could be measured. It was looking at love and seeing an emotion. It was seeing it as a subjective experience that came in different ways to different people. Thus (I suspect) since they couldn’t measure love empirically, they found it hard to study and hard to explain scientifically.
II. And yet God apparently believes that love can be understood, because God made LOVE the law of His Kingdom
James wrote: “If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well” (James 2:8)