In the song The Rose, part of her album of the same title, Bette Midler offers some ideas about what “some” say about love. “Some say love, it is a river that drowns the tender reed. Some say love, it is a razor that leaves your soul to bleed. Some say love, it is a hunger, an endless aching need.” Not a pretty picture. I don’t know who these “some” are, but, clearly, they have been hurt by “love.” I say, that river, that razor, that hunger – that isn’t love. I believe the Word of God backs me up on this. 

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 gives it to us straight about what love is and what it isn’t: 4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. [NLT]

Those who don’t understand God’s definition of love might think that love doesn’t apply in certain situations – that maybe you need something, some action or positioning that is often seen as opposed to love, like strength or self-preservation – especially when you’ve been attacked by gossip, when a friend has been untrue, when you are arguing or being persecuted. 

When we understand God’s definition of love, and His requirement that we evidence a total commitment to it, we realize that love is stronger than any other thing in the world. Love strengthened Jesus through a horrible beating and an ignominious crucifixion, and enabled Him to accept it all with lamb-like quietness and offer inhuman forgiveness (meaning the kind of forgiveness that no human is capable of without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit).

Love is not a weak emotion. It is the strength of godly action when every fiber of your being and everyone in your circle of friends and everything coming at you in the given movement screams otherwise. In my experience, it is certainly tougher to let go of wrong than to hold onto it. It is more difficult to bite my tongue than to spit out a rude, crushing (but “brilliant”) retort. For love to work, it has to be stronger than human nature, Satan’s temptations and the world’s way of thinking.  

John 13:35 [NLT] Jesus says, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples." And, lest we forget, it isn’t just love for our fellow believers that is required. Jesus also tells us: 27 "But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. ... 35 "Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. (Luke 6:27, 35 [NLT]) 

Only when we show love are we acting like the children of God. Not if I give away all my money, or can quote the Bible end-to-end, or prophesy with perfect accuracy, or speak the language that only angels know. (See 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

Perhaps Midler’s point was that offering love to others means offering the kind of vulnerability that results in the giver of love being cut or drowned or in need. In that, she has a point. 

Showing perfect, godly love to others may result in me experiencing some of the things Midler warns about in her song. When I reach out with love, when I respond with love, I may get run over, hurt, rejected or ridiculed by those who don’t always offer love back or respond with love to all situations. 

Our Messiah certainly experienced exactly that. I should not expect that I will be spared from experiencing the same. In spite of the fact that we might not receive love back and, in fact, might face some very negative and ugly responses, God calls us to show love. He gives us no “out” on this – no exceptions to the rule. 


According to the song, Midler has a better view of love than “some”do. She croons: “I say love, it is a flower and you its only seed.” Love is exactly what God asks His children to be planting in the world. When it comes to fighting human nature in and around us; when it comes to fighting Satan’s world, we are to be planting the seed of love. The weapon we use in warfare is love. No matter what situation we face, the answer is love. Always. 

In every situation – when we are attacked, when we are fearful, when we are arguing, when we are in pain, when there is joy and prosperity, when there is sorrow and disappointment – God says, “love,” actually.

I welcome your thoughts, comments and questions. You can write me at I’ve placed a few more scriptures about showing love below.

[Rom 13:8 NLT] 8 Owe nothing to anyone--except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God's law.

[1Th 4:9 NLT] 9 But we don't need to write to you about the importance of loving each other, for God himself has taught you to love one another.

[1Jo 3:11, 23 NLT] 11 This is the message you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another. ... 23 And this is his commandment: We must believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as he commanded us.

[Mat 5:44 NLT] 44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you