A group of professionals posed this question to a number of 4-8 year-olds, “What does love mean?” The answers were broader, deeper, and more profound than one could have imagined.

“When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn’t bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That’s love.” (Rebecca, age 8) “When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You just know that your name is safe in their mouth.” (Billy, age 4)

“Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other.” (Karl, age 5) “Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries without making them give you anything of theirs.” (Chrissy, age 6)

“Love is what makes you smile when you’re tired.” (Terri, age 4) “Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure it tastes okay.” (Danny, age 8) “Love is what’s in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and just listen.” (Bobby, age 7) (Wow!)

“If you want to learn to love better, you should start with someone you hate.” (Nikka, age 6) (We need a few million more Nikka’s on this planet). “Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it every day.” (Noelle, age 7) “Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well.” (Tommy, age 6)

“During my piano recital, I was on a stage and I was scared. I looked at all the people watching saw and me my daddy waving and smiling. He was the only one doing that. I wasn’t scared anymore.” (Cindy, age 8) “My mommy loves me more than anybody. You don’t see anyone else kissing me to sleep at night.” (Clare, age 6)

“Love is when Mommy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken.” (Elaine, age 5) “Love is when Mommy sees Daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Robert Redford.” (Chris, age 7) “Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day.’ (Mary Ann, age 4)

“I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones.” (Lauren, age 4) “When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you.” (Karen, age 7) “You really shouldn’t say, ‘I love you,’ unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget.” (Jessica, age 8)

The winner was a 4-year-old child whose next-door neighbor was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife. Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman’s yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there. When his Mother asked him what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy said, “Nothing. I just helped him cry.”

The love we find in 1 Corinthians 13 is the highest and most unselfish kind of love. It is not natural. It goes against our very nature. That type of love extends to the unlovable, the undeserving, and the ugly. It gives all and asks for nothing in return. Jesus lived this kind of love.

According to 1 John 4:8-16, God is Love, and we will slowly develop that type of love as we become more Christ like. Jesus commands his disciples to remain in his love (John 15:9), and adds, “If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.” (John 15:10)

For all of us, unconditional love requires much work. It’s a lifetime labor. What is more important, we cannot do it on our own. We need divine grace. Don’t be afraid to ask for it.

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