“I wanna know what love is. I want you to show me.” Those lyrics, from a popular song by Foreigner, refer to romantic love. However, if we understand those words spiritually they can become our deepest prayer because to know what love is, is to know God. An intellectual understanding of love is insufficient. We cannot really know what love is without living a life of love. Love means surrendering our own will and doing what God wills. As we increasingly do so, we are transformed by love into love.
To be human is to love. We cannot decide to love nothing at all, but not all such love is holy. Egoism is the inordinate love of self. Materialism is the inordinate love of things. Hedonism is the inordinate love of pleasure. Greed is the inordinate love of money. Lust is the inordinate love of sex. A great saint once said that sin is the love of evil. How and what we love determines our eternal destiny.
We love what we love because those things seem to give us happiness or we believe they will give us happiness. However, to love anything (other than God) more than we ought to is idolatry and man’s idols can never give him lasting happiness.
When we love God with our whole being, we learn to love other things only as much as we should and to love other people as much as we love ourselves. God demands our highest love. As we begin to love Him in this way, it will seem as though we are losing everything, but, in the end, we will gain everything.
“I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God” (Exodus 20:5). He is not “jealous” because He is egotistical or insecure. He does not really need your love in order to be happy. Rather, because He loves you so much He wants you to share in His happiness. The only way you can do so is to love God “with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5).