A four-year-old girl, hugging a doll in each of her little arms, looked at her mother and said, “Mama, I love them and love them and love them, but they never love me back.” One of the most challenging things about love is that loving someone never guarantees being loved back. This is because a person cannot love without giving. Giving or sharing is the essence of love.

There’s a joke about a young man determined to win the affection of a lady who refused to talk to him anymore. He believed the way to her heart was through the mail, so he began writing her love letters. He wrote a love letter every day to this lady. He increased his output to three notes every twenty-four hours when she didn’t respond. In all, he wrote her more than seven hundred letters. His perseverance paid off, albeit unexpectedly–the lady married the postman.

Loving someone is easier when the giving is shared. Even though this is true, it still does not demonstrate the true nature of love. The Bible teaches that God is love (notice not love is God; 1 John 4:7). This means that the nature of God determines the nature of love. So, it is not until God loves (John 3:16) that mankind desires to love after accepting this gift. This is why a believer needs to obey God. Obeying God shapes our nature (Romans 12:2; Galatians 2:20) and determines the fruit we bear (Galatians 5:22). One of the fruits is love. This is how we know if a person is truly saved and is a true disciple of God by the fruit they bear (John 13:34-35). “You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?  So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit.  A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit ……. So then, you will know them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:16-20; NASU)

Many people can demonstrate various characteristics of love, but not everyone, by their very nature, can consistently display love. A person can be kind, but not necessarily forgiving. So, they are kind to people as long as they do not cross them. They must be loved back. As a result, their love fails. The nature of love “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” (1 Cor. 13:7). The nature of love is determined by the nature of God. This is why to love God leads us to love others whether they return the favor or not (Matthew 22:36-40). We should not love because of what others do; we must love because of who God is.