If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have 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 do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
What is love? The other passages I could find describe what the result of love is but never define it. Jesus loves us so he laid down his life for us. How does God define love? We know he loves us, but why?
I think I understand the depth of your question, though you can correct me if I’m wrong. As Christians we spend so much time talking about the result of love, that is, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ to save lost sinners. But we don’t spend a whole lot of time defining the actual root cause of love. It makes absolutely no sense to us that you love something or someone that repeatedly offends you by their sinful behavior, which is why you are asking the question, “Why?”
It’s a question that will remain just that, a question, and you get to spend your whole earthly life contemplating and pondering it, as St. Paul did after being converted to the Christian faith in route to destroy more Christians. If you read Paul’s epistles including Luke’s record of Paul’s journeys in the 2nd part of Acts, you will see that Paul never quite understood why and how God could love such a filthy sinner like himself, but he was grateful for it! In Paul’s letter to Timothy, he wrote…
1 Timothy 1:15,16 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.
And again, to the Ephesians Paul writes…
Ephesians 3:17-19 I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge
Again, this doesn’t really get to the “Why” of your question, but as you can see, Paul doesn’t pray that you ever get to the “Why” of God’s love, but rather that you just grasp how “wide, long, high, and deep” it is for you, and this, you get a life time to ponder. And you get a life-time to try and imitate this love, as well.
You imitate it when you love other people that are virtually unlovable. Maybe they’re in your family, maybe they are in your church, maybe they are at work, but there out there, right? You get to imitate love in your home, with your wife, and your children, by considering them better than yourself. God gives us many opportunities to imitate his love at church, through the service of our hands, and the devotion of our hearts to God’s Word. Jesus once said, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another,” (John 13:35) and that was modeled by Jesus through his washing of the disciple’s feet.
You see, the reason we have such a difficult time understanding the “Why” of love, is because love is a foreign concept to us because of sin. It can no longer perfectly exist in a human’s heart, which is why we must look at the result of it in the life of Jesus Christ, the only perfect human being. God put his love on display for the whole world to see when he sent Jesus and while his sacrifice for our sins makes no sense what’s so ever, we look at the result of what it accomplished, and can only marvel at what love achieved on our behalf.
Let your question of “Why” remain for you as a faithful pondering during your earthly journey. Then, when the journey is all through, and you see your Savior with open arms waiting for you in the kingdom that he prepared for you, fall at his feet and ask him the same question, “Why”? For I’m certain that at that moment, he will make it clear to you, “Why” he loved you, me, and all people.
1 John 4:8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.