Like many other words, the term "love" has been thrown around, widely and loosely, and typically used interchangeably with "desire". I recently heard Dallas Willard define love in a way I'd never thought of -- but it's spot on. This morning I read the same definition again in a fascinating little book by John Ortberg, Eternity is Now in Session and had to share it with you. It really transforms the way you think.
Love is to will the good of someone (or something).
When Willard explained this, it made me laugh. He said, "You don't love chocolate cake. You want to eat it!" (IE you desire it.) You love your children, even when or perhaps especially when you discipline them in an area for their good...you are willing good for them.
This definition of love is hugely important when it comes to understanding actions that are viewed as unloving. (Please do keep in mind that you must operate from your heart in this place of love). In the context of the talk Willard was giving, he was explaining how love could be operating even in harsh conditions such as war, or simply firing someone. When you are selflessly willing good for someone or something, you come from a place of love - even if you disagree with them. Even if you choose to confront them over something.
Once you define love as willing good for another....it will change your perspective on a LOT of things.