With countless songs, books, and movies dedicated to love, you would think we actually understood what it means. But the world has warped our view of God’s most precious attribute, leaving humanity longing for the real thing. In this message, Dr. Stanley teaches us what love really is and how it affects our lives. Learn how your life can be transformed when you allow God’s love to wrap around you and flow through you to others. For more messages from Charles Stanley, including this week’s broadcast, go to www.intouch.org/watch

Dr. Charles Stanley: Do you
feel loved by anybody?


Maybe somebody that you could
name, that you know in your

heart that you’re loved by them?

Or maybe you feel like you’re
not loved by anybody.

Why would you feel that-a-way
about yourself?

Do you believe God loves you?

Do you feel His love for you?

Or do you find yourself in a
love wilderness?

You’re not too sure what’s going
on with that part of your life.

Well, it’s a very important part
of your life.

And when I look at the
Scriptures and see how many

times love is mentioned, for
example, in the Old Testament

two hundred and fifty times, in
the New Testament two hundred

and thirty-four times.

And it’s interesting that John
who wrote the Gospel and three

epistles, just what he wrote
alone, he in those few chapters,

seventy-two times John talked
about love.

Must be important.

And of course, you’ve heard this
verse for years, “For God so

loved the world, that He gave
His only begotten Son, that

whoever believes in Him would
not perish, but have everlasting


But you see, probably you’ve put
that out there in generalities,

“God so loved the world,” you
never thought about yourself.

Do you feel that God loves you?

Are there some reasons you could
say, “Well, I know God loves me

for this reason, that or the

Or you just find yourself
wondering about that, going

about your daily life, not
feeling loved by anybody.

And for some people, you don’t
have anybody that you could put

your finger on to say, “I love
that person.”

If love is missing in your life,
a vital part of your life is

missing because it is an
essential part of every person’s


In First John, this fourth
chapter, and if you’d like to

turn to that, the fourth chapter
of First John beginning in verse

seven, listen to what he says.

He says, “Beloved, let us love
one another, for love is from

God,” that’s the source, “And
everyone who loves is born of

God and knows God.”

So that helps us to understand
whether we know God or not.

“The one who does not love does
not know God, for God is love.

By this the love of God was
manifested in us, that God has

sent His only begotten Son into
the world so that we might live

through Him.

In this is love, not that we
loved God, but that He loved us

and sent His Son to be a
sacrifice for our sins.

Beloved, if God so loved us, we
ought also to love one another.”

So, I want to title this
message, “Love Lessons.”

Maybe you know how to love,
maybe you don’t.

But I trust that you’ll listen
carefully, and somewhere in

here, you’ll see yourself,
you’ll find yourself, you’ll

know that you’ve been identified
because God loves you.

He wants you to know what love
is about, and surely, He wants

you to love Him.

So, I ask you this question: at
this moment, do you feel loved,

really loved, by anyone?

And do you love someone that you
can put your finger on, that you

can name, “Yes, I know that I
love that person.”

So, what I’d like for you to do
is to follow along and see where

you are in your ability, your
capacity to love and to be


And the first thing I would say
is this: love is more than an


Many people think, “Well, love
is just an emotion.”

No, it’s more than an emotion.

It’s a commitment to another

So, I would ask you the
question: are you committed to


Can somebody rely upon you,
trust in you?

Do you have a loving
relationship with anybody?

Because love is a commitment,
not just an emotion.

Love also can discern true love
in others like a radar.

In other words, when you love
somebody, you can discern that

love in your life.

You can discern in somebody
else’s life.

You sort of know when somebody
loves you or don’t.

And they may say that, “I love
you,” and they may say, “I

cherish you,” and so forth.

But deep down inside, you may
have a different feeling.

So, when I think about that, I
think about what has God given


He’s given us sort of a radar.

We know when we are genuinely
being loved.

It could be we’re being bought

We’re being convinced, but the
truth is do you know whether

you’re loved or not?

And then of course, let me say
that love’s not free.

God’s love for us is free from
Him, but all other love is not


Love demands something of us.

The very nature of love demands
something of us, requires

something of us.

You can’t live in a capsule and
be loving toward someone else.

And I think many people think
they love someone.

And if they should answer your
question, “Well, who do you


Some people would have to say,
“Well, um.”

[clearing throat]

And they clear their throat and
bring up another subject or two

and say, “Well, I’m sure I love
so-and-so, but you know, I’m not

quite sure.”

So, let me ask you this: do you
feel loved?

Listen to that question.

Do you feel loved?

Does your emotional suit fit
you perfectly, that you feel

wonderfully loved?

And I would ask this: are you
going through the rest of your

life feeling unloved?

If you do, you will have missed
what love–what life’s all


You’ll have missed what love’s
all about.

And love starts in Genesis one

God’s creation was an act of

It goes all through the rest of
the books of the Bible, all

sixty-six books, and ends up in
the Revelation.

God’s still loving.

And that same God wants you and
me to know how to love each

other, to love Him.

So, I ask you the question: can
you name somebody that you

really and truly love?

If you can’t, you’re missing
something and you’re causing

them to miss something in your

God didn’t create us to live
without love.

When a person feels love, it
enables us to feel complete.

And I want you to listen to this

There are three characteristics
here that are very important.

When a person really and truly
feels love, it enables them to

have three other emotions that
are very important.

And the first one is you feel

Think about it for a moment.

If you feel really loved by
somebody, there’s a completion

emotionally in that.

So, it makes you feel complete.

It also makes you feel
competent, capable; that is,

love traverses every single part
of your body, your mind, your

will, and your emotion.

It enables you now only to feel
like you’re complete, you feel


It gives you that surge to
think, “I can do this.

I’ll be able to manage this.

I can walk through this.”

And thirdly, it enables you to
feel worthy.

And those three words are very

To feel complete, to feel
competent, to feel worthy, no

longer struggling to prove

And when I think about that, I
think about how generous and

unselfish love is.

Love is generous.

Love is unselfish.

Love’s not about me; me, myself
and I.

And if you’ll think about it for
just a moment, think about the

conversations you have with
people, how often it’s I and me,


And when you get into a
conversation with someone whose

favorite word is me, myself, and
I, then you probably need to be

very serious in the way you
listen to what they say.

Because more than likely,
they’re going to end up wanting

something from you.

Love is always thinking about
the other person, what’s best

for them.

And I don’t know of any more
beautiful relationship than two

people who fall in love with
each other, genuinely love each

other for who each other is, not
because of what they want from

one another, because they want
to give themselves to each other

in the right way, in a godly way
and a holy way.

And so, when I think about how
generous and unselfish it is and

I think about, love, for
example, is more fulfilled

because it’s giving to someone.

And you ask yourself this
question, to be honest.

What pleases you most?

What makes you the happiest?

What do you get the most
gratification out of is when

somebody gives you something you
want, or maybe you didn’t

particularly ask for it, but
there it is, a nice gift?

Or are you more satisfied by the
fact that you were able to give

somebody else something?

What satisfies you the most?

What’s the most fulfilling?

Is it receiving or giving?

Giving; well, I got two people
say that.

The truth is, listen, when love
is at the core of your heart,

you love giving to somebody,
especially if they have a need

and especially if you can
surprise them.

And especially if they have been
longing for a certain thing a

long period of time and God has
made it possible to meet a need

in their life.

You see, we never think about
the will of God in giving or


We just give or we just ask.

But before you give somebody
else something, you should ask,

“Lord, is this the proper thing
to give?

Is this the right way to give?

Is this the right thing to give
to somebody?”

You don’t give to get paid back.

Love, when I think about this,
love does not give in order to


Love just gives because it’s

And then of course, love is

Some people live their whole
life with anger, bitterness,

resentfulness, and jealousy in
their heart.

Maybe they were wronged as a

Maybe their parents wronged
them, whatever it might be.

And every once in a while, I
meet somebody who has lived a

lot of years in their life and
carried with them the whole time

this weighty burden of

Watch this carefully.

You must always forgive.

You say, “But you don’t know
what they’ve done to me.”

Let me ask you this: what about
the cross?

What did He do for you?

Has anybody else ever done that
for you?


Jesus died that you and I may be
forgiven of our sins, our

errors, and our wrongs.

He loved us enough and loves us
enough to forgive no matter


And so, love is forgiving,
doesn’t hold grudges.

And likewise, love desires to
express itself.

And when you think about that,
think about Christmas, for


Why do you give at Christmas?

And let me ask you this
question: I believe there was a

time probably, watch this
carefully, when we didn’t have

much in this country.

We were sort of an agricultural

And so, we weren’t rich, and
people didn’t have too

much–very much, and so they
gave, and it cost them to give

for what they did get.

And so, they had to sacrifice a
little bit in order to give.

And when a person genuinely
gives out of love, they don’t

consider it a sacrifice.

You, watch this, love is like
this well inside of you that’s

either all chupped up and
doesn’t flow, or it becomes like

a spring: it just keeps on
flowing and keeps on flowing.

If you love somebody, you’re
like an emotional spring.

That is, there’s something that
flows from you that you can’t

really express.

If you don’t know how to love
and to be loved, there isn’t

anything else in the world that
can take the place of genuine


And so, the truth is, you’re in

And many people think their
need’s physical.

That’s not their need.

They think their need’s

That’s not their need.

If they learn to love, here’s
what would happen.

Watch this, mark it down.

When you learn to love, it’s
amazing how God changes the

direction of the flow in
your life.

And it’s not always one way,
it’s both ways.

But also, there’s a flow toward
you simply because you’ve

learned to love.

And when the love of God flows
in you and through you to

others, there’s going to
be love.

You’re going to feel love.

You’re going to experience love.

You’re going to begin to
experience life at its best.

Until you learn to love someone
genuinely, purposely, with all

of your heart, sincerely, and
purely; once you learn that,

you’re going to discover what
life can really be like.

And then love hurts when
somebody else hurts.

When you genuinely love and
there’s love in your heart and

you see someone else hurting,
the natural result of a person

who knows how to love is to
reach out some way.

It may be a distant–you can
only pray for them.

But if at all possible, you want
to do something for them.

It’s like a person with the gift
of mercy.

And you can have all the seven
major gifts together, but when

there’s a person hurting, the
person with the gift of mercy is

the first one there.

That’s just the way God made us.

And so, when you see someone
hurt, how do you feel?

Watch this, sometimes when
somebody’s hurting and it’s a

tough situation, if you don’t
have love, you want to walk


Now, the reason you walk away is
not because you don’t

particularly care, you can’t
handle it.

Because you don’t not–you don’t
know how to express love.

You may be frustrated and you’d
like to express love.

You don’t know how.

So, the best thing you can do is
escape, walk away, which is an

indication a person’s never
learned how to love.

You hurt when other people hurt.

Willing to sacrifice when
necessary because, watch this,

listen carefully, love does not
keep accounts.

I did this for you, expect you
to do that for me.

That is not love.

I’ve done this and this and this
for you and you’ve done none of

that for me.

That’s not love.

Doesn’t keep records.

And think about this, here’s a
good example.

Christmastime, what do we do?

You get you a Christmas list

And here’s one of the questions
you ask.

You can’t deny it.

What did they give me last year?

And who do I need to give to so
they won’t get their

feelings hurt.

And is it not true we make
lists, and oftentimes those

lists are governed by the fact
that somebody gave us something.

Maybe you can’t remember what it
was, but they gave you something

and so you make a list because
you want to pay, you want to not

give them back, pay them back.

Love is not in the business of
paying and receiving.

Love is in the business of
giving with not any real

expectation of return.

Sometimes love is very painful.

You can love somebody who
doesn’t love you and that’s very


You do one of two things: you
keep on loving them and

forgiving them and loving them
and forgiving them and loving

and forgiving them.

And you may have to do that a
long time in your life.

You may do it the rest of your
life and the person never love


But you know how to love.

The person who, listen, the
person who loves, wins.

They win.

And because it hurts, people
want to give up and quit.

Sometimes love is very painful
because the way we get treated,

for example, in return.

And really and truly, love
doesn’t require anything in


If I love you, watch this
carefully, if I love you, I’m

not going to say because, if,
when, where and a whole lot of

other words.

If I love you, I just love you
because you’re you.

Think about this: Jesus loves
you for no reason in you.

He just loves you.

Now, here’s what we do.

We have a difficult time with
this love business because it’s

like I want a payback.

In other words, if you really
love me and I feel that love, my

first response, humanly, would
be, “Well, what can I do

for them?

And you know what,
when somebody says,

“You can’t do anything for me.

You can’t do anything for me.”

God knows exactly how to love

The issue is how do we learn to
love Him in return, and each


Love is patient.

That’s a tough one.

Love is patient.

Love knows how to wait.

Lust does not know how to wait.

Love knows how to wait.

Love is willing to wait.

So, ask yourself the question:
do you find yourself in

situations where you don’t want
to wait?

It’s dangerous not to know how
to wait for love to fulfill


You can love somebody and they
can draw a line.

Or they may say to you, “Well,
if you’re not willing to do

this, then this is over.”

You can just say, “Well, thank
you very much because you didn’t

love me to start with.”

When people put–they draw
lines, they draw circles.

And if you don’t get in my
circle when I want you to, then

you can just forget it.

But love is very patient.

Love is willing to wait.

Now, watch this.

When I hear the stories and see
people who weep and weep and

weep over things in their life,
you know, you can’t help but

weep with them because they’ve
been deeply hurt.

And one thing love does, does
not hold grudges, is we said it

doesn’t keep an account.

It’s willing to forgive and
forgive and forgive and forgive

and forgive and forgive.

Love is very patient; and love,
in essence, is really a choice

we make.

It’s not a feeling, it’s a

Now, there is a feeling that
goes with it, but ultimately

it’s a choice.

It’s a choice based on who you
are and what God wants it for

your life, wants to accomplish
in your life, not on the basis

of anybody else, no matter what
they may say.

And the best picture of love is
the cross.

Jesus’s death on the cross is
the perfect example of love.

He loved the world and nobody
seemed to appear to love Him.

And you may be in a situation or
circumstance in your life that

you don’t feel loved at all.

And you’re asking the question:
well, why should I keep trying

and trying and trying when
nobody cares, nobody appreciates

me, nobody loves me?

Listen, you just keep on loving
and something will happen.

Because remember this: when you
love, you’re acting the most

like Jesus.

And therefore, He’s on your

Not loving to get, loving
because that’s who you are.

And loving has an awesome effect
upon us.

It makes it possible for us to
give, it makes it possible for

us to love in return, because
you see, love is not all about


And this is where most of the
world is.

Most of the people in this
society we live in, for the most

part, it’s all about me.

Watch the advertisements.

Listen to what they say.

It’s all about me.

If you want, if you want to look
this way, if you want to feel

this way, if you want to

In other words, you, you, you,
me, me, me, me, me.

Read the New Testament and see
how that absolutely is a

contradiction to everything
Jesus talked about.

Jesus has the most awesome way
of being an intimate, loving,

genuine, indescribable, awesome

So, I would simply ask you the
question: do you love someone?

Do you love Jesus?

Have you ever accepted His love?

If you want to really love in
life, here’s where you start.

Not reading a magazine, read the

Here’s where you start.

Not talking to others, talk to

If you really want life at its
best, it has to be rooted and

grounded in the foundation of
godly love.

And that is my prayer for you.

And that’s where it all starts:
accepting the death of Jesus

Christ on the cross is the
greatest act of love ever known.

And He died to pay our sin debt
in full.

All the mess you’ve made of your
life, all the bad things you’ve

done, all the regrets that you
have, His love just washes all

that away.

He’s willing to forgive you.

Listen, and He will remember
your sins no more when you

repent of them before Him.

And I would ask you to look at
your life.

It’s not what you want it to be.

It’s empty in a lot of ways.

You’ve got everything money can
buy, but you don’t have the most

important thing, and that’s
love, love for God and the

ability to receive the love of
God, the ability to love other

people and to receive their

If you don’t have love, you are

You are poor.

You are wretched.

You are needy.

And the only person who can
satisfy that is the One who went

to the cross for you, and that’s
Jesus Christ.

And I pray that you’ll ask the
Lord to forgive you of your sin,

surrender your life to Him, let
Him help you begin to live life

at its best.

And that’s with Jesus Christ as
your Savior, your Lord, and your



And Father, how grateful we are
that Your love for us is beyond

our explanation and beyond our
ability to explain fully.

I pray that every person who
hears this message will take it

to heart, get honest with
themselves, get right with You,

Lord, and begin living for the
first time in their life.

Whether they are sixteen or
eighty-six, life begins at the

cross with Jesus Christ.

And we say thank You for that,
in His name, amen.