The purpose of love can be found in 1 Corinthians 13, the “Love Chapter” of the Bible. When we study these particular scriptures we may find that God’s definition and purpose may differ from that of a world’s view. Since we have already established the fact that God is love (I John 4:7-21) it is important to understand how He not only defines this word but also His purpose for it.
This love chapter begins with the preeminence of love:
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. (1Cor 13:1-3)
Then talks about the personality of love:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (4-7)
As we continue we read we learn about the permanence and perfection of love:
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. (8-10, 13) And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
However, tucked in between these last few verses we read the answer to our question:
“What is the purpose of love?”
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. (11-12)
The purpose of love is intimacy. It brings us to maturity (to put childish ways behind us), so that we might enjoy the fruit of love (knowing as we are fully known).
Merriam Webster’s definition for the word “intimate” reads:
- Belonging to or characterizing one’s deepest nature
- Marked by very close association, contact, or familiarity
- Marked by a warm friendship developing through long association
- Suggesting informal warmth or privacy
- Of a very personal or private nature
The purpose of “love” is to know and be known.
This definition of love’s purpose may be miles away from any of the ideas that you have had about its purpose so it is vital that we read the scriptures so we will understand what the author intended when He said: “then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known…”
Does your heart cry out for love, does your heart cry out for intimacy? Most of us would say, “YES! THAT’S WHAT I WANT!”
If that is you, then get to know Him more so that He can perfect that purpose in you.
During this week of celebrating the 4th of July let us add to our celebration an independence of “leaning on our own understanding” and begin to celebrate our “dependence on a God that loves us”.