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Our beliefs about love can be shaped by a lot of things, from the way we grew up to the relationships we’ve built and what we’ve seen in movies, music and television. The trouble is, sometimes what we believe isn’t true; the media can give us misconceptions about love and I believe our life experiences can too.

Misconceptions about love can be dangerous. Research shows that what you believe about relationships actually impacts how your relationships go. If you measure how in love you are by the butterfly feelings in your stomach, for example, you may find yourself having a difficult time staying in relationships when the butterfly feelings are fewer and farther between.

Real love is a very important part of the Bible and something God wants each of us to experience. Read below for some of the most common misconceptions about love and scriptures that clear them up.

1. Saying “I love you” means you actually love someone

Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.

1 John 3:18  (NLT)

Love is an easy word to throw around; it feels good to hear it and to say it. Expressing our feelings in words certainly helps our relationships, but just saying “I love you” doesn’t prove you actually love someone. According to the Bible love is an action, not a just a feeling. People feel loved not just by what you say but by what you do, so it’s important that we make the decision to love by taking action.

What ways can you start actively loving others? One easy way to start is to think of the things that make you feel loved and do those things for the special people in your life.

 2. Love doesn’t last

Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends.

Proverbs 17:9 (NLT)

Have you ever been so afraid of pain or rejection that you didn’t even want to try to be close to someone? Close friendships can create turmoil. When we are close to someone, they will inevitably hurt us because people aren’t perfect. But love doesn’t have to end when we get hurt. It may be very tempting to hold a grudge or be vengeful when we feel hurt or angry, but this scripture tells us that when we decide to get stuck on the faults of others, we create distance and can’t be close. Love lasts when we decide to forgive.

Are there any faults in your friends or significant other that you have been holding on to? Pray about the hurt you feel and make a decision to forgive. If you feel stuck, look up scriptures on bitterness and forgiveness in the Bible.

3. I can make myself a more loving person

 Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. 8 But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. 10 This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

16 We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love.

God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. 17 And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect.

1 John 4:7-10, 16-17a  (NLT)

Perhaps the biggest misconception we have about love is that it comes solely from ourselves, and that we don’t need God to love. But if God is love and love comes from God, then how is it possible to love without God? We won’t be able to love others if we don’t make the decision to submit to God and believe that the only way to learn real love is from God. The Bible says that if we know how much God loves us, we can put our trust in his love. When we live our life for God and believe that love comes from him, our love grows.

One of the best ways to get to know God is to read what he says about himself in the Bible. Do a Bible study on the words “God is” or “Lord is” and write down any misconceptions you have about God’s character, as well has how you feel about each scripture.

Written by

Martin Oji

Martin Oji is a contributor to BACC Inspire. He works with college students and young professionals in the San Francisco Bay Area. Martin is the 4th best basketball player on the Inspire roster.