Question:I was reading over the email you sent me a while back and I understand what love is but at the same time I don't. I know what is but I feel it's hard to explain. Love is like faith, it isn't an action but without action it is basically dead. I can show someone how to follow God; but love, when someone asks you what is love, is not so much to do the commandments liked we discussed but more of its description like in Corinthians. I get lost because it's saying love does this, love does that but those are actions that result from love. But what is love? In a sense it's a feeling, but it's not. I believe it's both in a way. There are two parts to it (probably more) but do you understand what I mean? Everything I read is a result of love, yet defines it, but it's defined by what it causes people to do. So I feel like my head is going in a circle. Is it a cause and effect, like faith without works is dead? Yet faith is not works, but it is needed to define what faith does. Same with love; can we define love without action? Is there a basis for it? I can't say it right, but I hope you understand what I mean.
When we talk about faith, belief, or trust, we are talking about the same thing. Faith is the motivation for why a person does things. God commands something and the person follows the command because he trusts that God's commands are best for him and he trusts that God will carry out His promises that were a part of the command. Because faith is internal, it isn't something easily quantifiable. But it is detectable by observing what a person does.
"What good is it, my brothers, if a man says he has faith, but has no works? Can faith save him? And if a brother or sister is naked and in lack of daily food, and one of you tells them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled;" and yet you didn't give them the things the body needs, what good is it? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead in itself. Yes, a man will say, "You have faith, and I have works." Show me your faith without works, and I by my works will show you my faith. You believe that God is one. You do well. The demons also believe, and shudder. But do you want to know, vain man, that faith apart from works is dead? Wasn't Abraham our father justified by works, in that he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? You see that faith worked with his works, and by works faith was perfected; and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him as righteousness;" and he was called the friend of God. You see then that by works, a man is justified, and not only by faith" (James 2:14-24).
Faith is not obedience to commands, but faith is demonstrated by obedience to God's commands and that obedience strengthens or completes faith.
Yet, to add to the confusion, faith is something that God commands people to have. "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6). Faith is something a person chooses to give God or not. Thus, and this drives the "no works" crowd nutty, faith itself is a work. "Then they said to Him, "What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?" Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent"" (John 6:28-29). You choose whether you give your trust to someone else or not. Because it is something you choose to do, it is a work -- not originating with man, but a work defined by God and performed by man.
Love, too, is a motivation and a choice that a person makes to give or withhold. Like faith, love comes in varying degrees, but it cannot be directly measured. It is demonstrated in what love motivates a person to do.
Love is not an emotional response to another because love will motivate a person to act even when the loved one is unlikeable. "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).
Love is caring deeply about another person. When we love someone who has authority over us, then it is shown by our willingness to do as we are told. "By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome" (I John 5:2-3). When it is for someone equal to us, it is shown in what we are willing to sacrifice for that person. "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends" (John 13:15).
That faith and love are motivators of effort is shown in this verse: "remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father" (I Thessalonians 1:3). Like faith, love can be properly called a work because it is something a person choses to give to another. It isn't a work of man, but of God because it is defined and commanded by God.
Every work a man might conceive of doesn't necessarily demonstrate love, but God tells us that certain behaviors are signals that love is the motivation behind the action. That is why Paul tells us: "Love is patient and is kind; love doesn't envy. Love doesn't brag, is not proud, doesn't behave itself inappropriately, doesn't seek its own way, is not provoked, takes no account of evil; doesn't rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails" (I Corinthians 13:4-8).