The Well-Being of Love

January 22nd, 2010 / 81 Comments

We use “love” in our everyday speech to mean many things. I think love is best understood and defined in terms of promoting well-being.

I propose that we best define love in the following way:

To love is to act intentionally, in sympathetic/empathetic response to God and others, to promote overall well-being.

To say this in another way, loving actions are influenced by prior acts of God, others, and one’s own actions. Actions we should regard as loving are those purposefully done hoping to encourage, create, or sustain something good.

One of the more important phrases in my definition is the last one: “to promote overall well-being.” This phrase is a more technical way of simply saying love does good.

Although biblical writers use the word “love” differently, the majority of time they equate love with doing good. To love is intentionally to do something beneficial, positive, or helpful.

Jesus understood love in this way when he said love means being a blessing. “Love your enemies,” says Jesus, by “doing good” to them (Lk. 6:35). He instructs his followers to love by doing good even to those who persecute (Mt. 5:44).

God loves by doing good: God sends rain to the righteous and unrighteous (Mt. 5:45). God gave Jesus so we might benefit and have eternal life (Jn. 3:16; 1 Jn. 4:9). Jesus’ Good Samaritan story points to the core meaning of love as doing good. Jesus explains the first and second commandments in terms of doing good.

The essence of love as purposely doing good or being a benefit prevails in both the Old and New Testaments. Old Testament writers testify that God’s love involves doing good by promoting overall well-being. “The Lord is good to all, and his compassion is over all that he has made” (Ps. 145:9). We should “give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, and his love endures forever” (136:1).

The Lord speaks with Moses and offers this self-description: ‘The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Ex. 34:6).

The apostle Paul believes God intends the good of others when Paul prays “may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word” (2 Thess. 2:16-17).

Paul emphasizes the essential relationship between love and goodness saying love “repays evil with good” (Rm. 12:21). Love does good by building up rather than destroying (1 Cor. 8:1b). Love “hates evil and clings to that which is good” (Rm. 13:9).

In his instructions on love, Peter says Christians should “not repay evil for evil or abuse for abuse; but, on the contrary, repay with a blessing” (1 Pt. 3:9).

The disciple John, who wrote often and well of love, identifies love with promoting well-being. John says we know best about love because of Jesus’ beneficial action, “We know love by this, that [Jesus] laid down his life for usand we ought to lay down our lives for one another” (1 Jn. 3:16).

The argument we ought to follow Jesus’ example comes in the context of John’s call to help those in need. He asks rhetorically, “How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses to help?” (1 Jn. 3:17) The implication is that love entails doing good, i.e., promoting well-being.

I use the phrase “promoting overall well-being” in my definition of love instead of a phrase like “doing good.” I use it to gather together a number of biblical terms pertaining to benefiting, helping, and being or doing positive things.

Biblical authors sometimes use the word “blessing” to talk about the well-being love promotes. Sometimes, biblical writers use the word “peace” to talk about well-being, in the sense full-bodied shalom.

Jesus refers to well-being when he says he came that we might have “abundant life” (Jn. 10:10). Jesus also expressed love and thereby promoted well-being when he healed the sick and cast out demons.

The phrase “well-being” has been equated in other literature and in the Bible with health, healing, happiness, wholeness, medicine, and flourishing.

Promoting overall well-being can mean acting in a wide variety of ways when doing good. It can mean meeting basic needs, such as providing food, water, air, and suitable living conditions. It can involve enhancing physical and mental dimensions of life.

Promoting well-being may mean caring for others or establishing a sense of community. It can mean promoting diverse life forms, opportunities, and cultural expressions. To do good by promoting well-being may mean securing in others a feeling of self-worth, providing medical soundness and physical fitness, fostering deep personal relationships, or cultivating social and political harmony.

Promoting well-being often includes encouraging the development of Christian virtues and practices. To promote well-being is to act intentionally to do good in at least one but often many ways.

We use the word “love” in many ways.  I want to encourage us to reserve its use for those actions we think are intentionally done in the hope of doing good.  We should follow the example of Jesus, who lovingly “went around doing good” (Acts 10:38).

Add comment


Betsy Hillman

I also think it is important when talking about love to talk about how it is a choice and not something that we just wake up and decide to do. Love for certain people may come naturally and others it may take more. But to promote the over all well being you have to choose that. The Samaritan choice to help the man, he chose to love. I think that we do need to have a better understanding of love and also that it is something that we choose to do.

Jon Hawkins

I wish you could have given more examples of “doing good” to others. This can entail quite a bit of examples. For instance, one can love a coworker by calling him or her out when talking to a customer in a rude manner. By approaching him or her and letting them know what they are doing is not ok even if they do not realize it is doing them good. So no matter how we love, if it is in a manner of doing them good and no harm, this is what God had planned?

Becca Spivey

This is one of the reasons why the English language is not sufficient in some ways. We only have one word for love, unlike many other languages who have two to four. I have stated “I love Kool-aid” which really means that I really really really like it. I would not die for Kool-aid, I do not put it at equal or greater value than humans.

I do like that you stated love as promoting overall well-being because it seems as though some people limit love to simply feelings, or a word and do not equate it with action. I would also want to add that love is not just an action, a feeling, or words but is something much deeper that is in our hearts and souls. This meaning that I could act lovingly towards a homeless person by giving them food and shelter, but if i have hatred, or any form of resentment towards them then they are not loving that person even if their action suggest love.

Kaylee Bunn

I appreciate this definition so much! My failure to display true love in my day-to-day interactions is something I have been extremely convicted by, as I have realized that my Christianity is extremely comfortable. Very rarely do I inconvenience myself in order to seek out the broken and show them love in a way that is more tangible than a smile as I walk to my destination. Jesus is the example that tells us that love should be displayed in action. This is challenging to me, and a great reminder.

Lucas Reding

I love the last line of this article. Calling us to love and promote well-being like Jesus. For most of my life I thought of such deeds as third world missionary work, but that felt so far away from my life that I felt like I could not accomplish such things. I felt like I was not able to love like I should, the way Jesus loved. That has since changed by realizing I can love like Jesus by simply loving my neighbor. That is what makes love so powerful. The idea of a simple good deed producing well-being in an individual is amazing. Thank you Dr. Oord for opening my eyes to such wonderment.

Andrew Sinift

The ways we use the term “love” are far too many. Its loosing its impact as a word. Even if we’re very intentional in only using it when sincerely referencing a promotion of well-being I don’t think it will make an impact on how most people use the word. Its part of the way languages work. Words change meanings over time. Sometimes its a good thing, sometimes its bad. I think that at this point most people understand that there are different kinds of love. The definition given here is strong at providing a more serious and relational understanding of the term.

James Hardy

When I read your blog, the first thing that came to my mind was a song by dc Talk called “Luv is a Verb.”  All too often we think of love as a feeling or a strong personal connection.  Though these are both true, love is manifested in action.  That is how God loves us—by acting in way that promotes our well-being and that is how we really love as a result.

Chris Lee Danielson

I agree with the way that you define love here. It is so important to remember that love is, as you say, intentional, and that it involves promoting overall well-being. I think. It means more than just sitting and feeling warm about someone, it implies action to help bring about their well-being. That is exactly what Christ did for us to show his love. It is sad that love can be used in the same sentence as pizza without anyone asking questions, and yet we expect the definition of the same word to fit the most intimate and personal of relationships that the Creator of the universe wants to have with us.


Well, like pretty much everyone else that has commented on this blog, I, too, agree that the word “love” is thrown around far too loosely in our culture. I appreciate your efforts, Dr. Oord, to try to almost regain the weightiness of the word by being intentional about using it only in the context of promoting well-being.

However, I do think the definition you give can be somewhat problematic in that what “well-being” looks like can sometimes be ambiguous. For example, lately I have been wrestling with whether or not Christians should ever condone killing another person, regardless of the circumstance.Jesus says to love our enemies. If someone is breaking into my house and about to kill my children, how do I apply your definition of love? Killing the intruder might promote the most well-being for my children, but it certainly does not for the intruder. In situations like these, this definition is not very helpful as I am still stuck with the dilemma of knowing what is the most loving action.

Emma Roemhildt

Promoting well-being is an obvious good thing. Without the Gospel of Christ one could argue that taking care of others is a virtue. Even then, however, you could do something to promote flourishing without loving that person. Volunteering may be an act of love but it by no means necessitates that I love the people I’m helping. If we are to take the Gospel of Christ’s love, it must be something more. The love that Christ had for us, the love that brought him to the cross, that brought him to death, cannot be equated with well-being. His acts were more than promoting our well-being, they were sacrificing himself. With this great love comes sacrifice, not just good deeds.

Kaylee Bunn

I appreciate this definition so much! My failure to display true love in my day-to-day interactions is something I have been extremely convicted by, as I have realized that my Christianity is extremely comfortable

Kaylee Bunn

….Very rarely do I inconvenience myself in order to seek out the broken and show them love in a way that is more tangible than a smile as I walk to my next destination. Jesus is the example that tells us that love should be displayed in action. This is challenging to me, and a great reminder.

Preston Ake

I enjoyed the take home message of this blog post. That we should reserve the use of love for promoting the well being of others. Love is used in a million ways, in a million different contexts, but using love in this sense gives the word more meaning and purpose. The use of love, as show by Jesus has to be right. Jesus taught the world what is right, and I personally would like to abide by his teachings, so I agree that we should promote the well being of others always.
In the context of your definition of love (promote the well being of others) it reminds me of a Utilitarian ethical principle. Which is that we should promote the overall well being of others. The key difference in your definition and the Utilitarian definition is “overall” well being. Utilitarian ethical principles would allow the killing 1 person to save 10, but promoting the well being of others would not. I do not believe that Jesus would always agree with Utilitarians, because Jesus would be situational, and share a virtue ethical principle.


I definitely agree that the word love does need to be reserved for special, proper occasions. We do use it quite flagrantly and for many different reasons in which another word would fit much better. Why is it that we do this? I believe one reason is because we are not taught how to speak correctly and clearly. Many times we use certain words as fillers or we lack the large vocabulary needed to avoid the overuse of a word in the wrong situation. For instance, instead of saying, “I love pizza,” you could say, “I enjoy the taste of pizza,” which would more than likely be more accurate and correct. This takes a great amount of effort and time to train yourself to do this, which most people do not want to take that time and effort to do sadly. I also love the fact that you use the phrase ‘promote overall well-being’ because it gives a good blanket meaning that is hard to argue against.

Kellie Miller

I like to read the comments left by previous students. As I was reading your blog, I kept thinking how I agree, but there was just something that I wasn’t quite agreeable on. I have to agree with Emma Roemhildt’s comment, that though we are choosing the well-being of a person, it doesn’t always mean that we love them. I do believe that love is a choice, that we are to choose the greater good for another person, but I think that loving someone and acts of love can be a totally different thing.

Sara Butkus

I agree that the word love gets used in so many different ways. I also agree with your definition of what we should reserve the use of love for. Although I would like to say that we should use the word love less, I am unsure of what word we could substitute in its place. It is unfortunate that there is only one word in the English language to describe all the different kinds of love.  Perhaps we need to create new words that distinguish the different kinds of love or even start using the Greek’s words for love. This way we could separate the love we feel for cheesecake from the love we feel for our family, or God.

Elisabeth Pena

This blog entry is interesting because it challenges statements such as “An abuse relationship is filled with bad love.” Often when describing bad situations we still use the word love. But according to the above definition and most definitions, these acts wouldn’t even be defined as bad acts of love, because such a thing cannot exist. If love is done to promote well-being, any act that is not done in this direction is therefore not love. Some issue comes up in terms of intention, but nonetheless this definition of love allows us to weed out bad examples of what may call “love”. An abuse husband is not acting out of love, because he is not promoting well-being, but rather the opposite. I appreciate this definition a lot, because it allows us to sort through these claims of “love” more easily.

mike jaquess

i wouldnt know a better way to simply define love than with your definition. it makes all the statements of love and good doing that comes from God and everything good. the biggest part of it is the end saying “to promote the overall well being.” if what you are doing is not selflessly benefiting to others than you should think twice about what youre doing. selflessness is a hard would to define as most things we do benefit us in some way shape and form. ever since we went over this definition in class i have looked at the way i use the word love and the way i show my love to others. taking the time to make “love” important and meaningful like the phrase “im sorry” puts more meaning and truth to how you say it and show it.

Nicholas Carpenter

As you have written, we are called to love others in an intentional way that gives overall well-being to people. Although I completely agree with this notion, I wonder though about the classic issue of “ends justifying means” with certain aspects of building well-being in others. If we intentionally do or say something to a person knowing that both A) it will hurt them presently and for a short time and B) build better well-being overtime and produce a greater outcome in the end, would that be considered love? We talk about “tough love” or use phrases like “this hurts me more than it hurts you”, but are we justified in saying a little hurt now will produce better results later on?

Taylor Watson

The main theme of this post is that in order for love to be loving, it must promote well-being. It defines well-being as health, healing, happiness, wholeness, medicine, and flourishing. The funny thing to me is that there are kinds of love that may not seem to promote happiness and flourishing at first, but which in the end, is a true love. An example of this is properly disciplining a child for wrong behavior. Although this may not seem entirely loving at the time, it will train the child that their action is wrong and will better both the child and society.

Steven Coles

I really like this idea of action in love. After reading you post, I read some of the comments, and others talked about love being an action. I have to say that, I never understood love this way. Growing up I thought the word, ‘love’ was just a word you identified with something you liked. Even after accepting Jesus into my life, there still was this sense of, ‘love’ being just a word. It was not until I started fully engaging myself into ministry did I see that love is an action. That we work to improve the well-being of others in such a way that we show and act out love. This thought of love has changed how I love others, but it has also showed me how to minister to others. That by being active members of the body of Christ and actively giving attention to things that affect peoples lives that I am showing love to that person.

Erin Rickart

I think this blog is very important for everyone to read. As mentioned, love is a word that is used very often but not always in a context that really uses the definition of love properly. I really liked the definition used here of the word love, promoting wellbeing is what love is all about. My question is: in that definition of love who’s wellbeing is it important to promote? Your own wellbeing or the person that you love? Initially my reaction would be that the goal of love is to promote another’s wellbeing, that’s why you love them. But after thinking of a couple situations I am a little less sure. In the movie we watched last week about donating, the most common response when asked why they donated was that putting money in the bucket made them feel good. So in that case wouldn’t loving another be promoting their own wellbeing? I don’t think it has to be one or the other, to love as in to promote wellbeing, is to promote your own wellbeing as well as the person that is receiving your love’s wellbeing. That is important to remember because if you know the definition of love, you are more likely to properly love someone, or at least use the term in a more appropriate setting.

Derek Sepe

I tend to have the same sentiments about love that a famous supreme court justice had about another issue, “I dont think I could describe it, but I know it when I see it.” This definition is something I can truly agree with because at it’s core it shows that our intensions matter. Sometimes our intentions for loving acts might be a little too self serving… other times hey might be purely unconditional love that we don’t expect anything in return. What matters however, is our intensions. If we aim to truly try and promote over all well being for others, not only ourselves, then our love is true and our actions just regardless of how self serving or sacrificial they may be. Granted this isn’t the end all be all definition and I do not think it is so confined to those limits, but I believe it’s the best we have.

I may not be able to describe love very well all the time, but I know love when I feel it.

Elisabeth Grinder

I love this definition. There is no way to argue with it! Promoting overall well-being is obviously and wholly GOOD. For the one providing love, for those receiving it, and for others observing and processing. And I agree with the above statement, having a firm definition really does allow us to discern between the many different “loves” that people give and use, especially regarding romantic love—which is more often than not infatuation. True romantic love, as between 2 partners or what have you, INCLUDES the promotion of well being. Many times the relationships around us do the exact opposite, and it’s important to note the absence of real love in those situations.

Kendria Werner

Your way of defining love is a great way to put it. The idea ‘to promote the overall well being’ i believe is the greatest part of saying what love is. An action that we believe to be loving should influence the well being of others and ourselves. This action is one of doing good which relates to what you talked about with Jesus in Lk 6:35. to promote this overall well being we can as it is commanded to love our enemy and do good towards them.

Emily Curty

I absolutely and completely agree with this definition. It is simple and yet extremely effective at describing what love truly is.
The only thing that could possibly detract from it is the nitty gritty arguments on what is the ‘greater good.’ Truthfully, these thoughts are rather nit picky and do not really have an effect on the actual definition. What matters is the meaning we choose to give ‘love’ and how we live to promote overall well-being

Teagan Cameron

I agree with you that our loving actions are influenced by prior acts of God and others. I firmly believe that this is true. When we feel loved by God or others, it is much easier to share that love with those around us and even more so, those in need of love. We love others because God loves us. In the Bible it says that we were created in the image of God. Therefore, if God is love and He continually chooses to love us, then we should also love continually. To promote well-being by loving someone, to me, means to care for or uplift them in all situations. Everyone is different and that is okay. We were not created to be the same so we should love others who are in different places or circumstances in their life.

Grady Turner

I heartily agree that love should be equated with doing good and that doing good improves our general well-being. But more than that, love speaks the truth. An aspect that it so often skipped over when it comes to loving is that loving can also mean that you have to make hard choices. You have to call a spade a spade. For instance, when we come along side a friend who is in sin, we must speak the truth because it is the loving thing to do.

Patrick Patterson

Like some others have said, the word love is something that is used so often that it is hard to truly define, but I believe your definition is what love should be interpreted or defined as.  Promoting well-being, can mean a variety of things, and I personally think promoting well-being is finding a sense of happiness by caring for/helping others and creating a sense of community.  With that said, I really like the message of this blog post and I think we should use love for promoting the well-being of others.  Love is used in so many different contexts these days, but this post has shown me it’s true meaning.  As you stated, “Loving actions are influenced by prior acts of God, others and one’s own actions.  Action we should regard as loving are those purposefully done hoping to encourage, create, or sustain something good.”

Amanda Peutz

I personally agree with your definition of love. I like how in this definition the primary technical meaning is that “love does good”. As a nursing major, this is a key point that we are taught through our nursing classes. We are not only taught how to perform skills needed for our future career, but we are taught how to care for and love those we provide services for. Jesus went around doing good for everyone he crossed, which is an example that I try to follow. As I walk the halls of the hospital I have the opportunity to promote my patients well-being physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. This is one of the reasons I love nursing. I have the opportunity daily to be like Jesus and do good for those I come into contact with.

Hillary Ashmead

I would have to agree that love is intentional, Love is a conscience choice we make for others as well as ourselves. However we learn how to love from God, our parents, and others around us. A lot of the time love gets a bad reputation i.e “Love sucks”, “Love hurts”, when it gets mixed up with the wrong emotions. That is why it is so important to demonstrate true love especially as parents to children, because that is where you learn healthy relations with others; as well as genuinely being concerned for others well-being resulting in love. I do also think society has become loose with the term, I don’t think random “acts of love” should be construed as love itself. I believe love is an ongoing process of serving the well-being of someone.

Alexandra Jarratt

I agree that love must be intentional. I think it is the intentionality that separates love from affection. One can feel affectionately towards another person, but if it is not backed by action, the emotion is empty. Love is similar to faith in this respect, that without works, it is dead (James 2:20). However, if it is only works without affection or concern for the person, attending to someone’s needs is not necessarily love. For example, a medical specialist may be able to provide adequate or exceptional care for a patient and only be in it for the money. According to your definition, they are still loving their patients by being a blessing to them in the physical sense, but the truly helpful are those that can blend their sense of duty towards the human race with compassion and concern for their patient’s state of being.

Sydnee Oord

I like this definition of love. I think it is important that love be recognized as the overall well-being of others, instead of just the physically passionate or puppy love we see in society. I believe that it is essential that people recognize this type of well-being love. If we promote and demonstrate this type of love to others, we can really change a person’s life. It is important to feel empathy for others in order to demonstrate this kind of well-being love. Without empathy, we cannot possibly know how to promote the well-being of others. I also like the first part of your definition lof love- the intentional part. I don’t think love without intention can really exist. We must intend to love someone in order to perform a loving act and promote overall well-being.

Holly Sheffield

One of the things that I like about this definition is the distinction that love is something that is intentional. Schindler’s List provides a prime example of the difference between doing something that promotes well-being that is intentional, and that is unintentional. In the beginning of the movie he was helping people and providing jobs for them out of a purely selfish desire to make money and though his actions were saving people, they were not motivated by love or care for the people. In the end though, his intentions became motivated by love and genuine concern for the Jews.

Molly Breland

When thinking of “love” I’ve usually thought of it as a feeling, as opposed to an act. With it being considered a feeling it seems less by choice, and more by chance. Where it is an act it is done so purposefully that you are doing good for the intention of well-being towards them.
With this though, I do believe there are varying kinds of love, or at least different levels. We love family, friends, and relationally very differently.
I most enjoyed your reasoning for using “promote an overall well-being.” To me “overall well-being” makes it sound more sustained, permanent, and holding through the future. Rather than “for their good” which makes it sound as it is just in the present.

Greg Hata

I think that caring for an individual’s well being is one of the main characteristics of love, to make it the most influential aspect goes a little too far. Using the example of Jesus, yes he was looking out for the common good of those who were around him but he also loved us more than than just looking out for our common good but more like a father loving his children. Love has many aspects too it and to put one above the other,is like developing one part of an individual instead of trying to develop the whole person. The common good may be the most common aspect of love, to really love some one, one must love with all aspects of love not just one.

Jennifer Yearsley

•  I like the idea of saying that “love does good” or it has a value of “well-being” attached to it, and would agree very much with that. This type of way of defining what love provides many ways to give or receive love. You mention that promoting well-being may mean things like providing basic needs, caring for others in a sense of community, promoting self-worth, providing medical soundness and physical fitness, deep relationships, and so on with much more variety. I feel like our society does not view love in these ways and I do not either at times. To be honest, I wasn’t until I became a Christian actually that I realized love can be more than just loving your family or ones that were closest to you. Love is an action and is powerful, we need to be careful how we use it.

leslie Warwick

After reading about love being a concept of well-being it makes me think that love is more than an intentional action to love, but more of an action to create beauty and healing and to have life be lifted up from the ashes of despair and it to “abundant life.” I can see in daily walk through faith that there are many chances for us to reach -out and create a life that is worthy of beauty and being loved even if it is ours or someone else.  But we can become content in watching abundant life opportunities pass us by because we don’t want to invest in a life that might deny us…our fear of failing the other person is stronger than knowing we have a love that already gave us an abundant life, all we have to do is reach out to help others up off the ground.

Rachael Snyder

This definition of love shines most brightly when viewed at the source, God. Oftentimes we complain about how the word love is thrown around in society, but it’s thrown around in church much more in my opinion. What do we really mean when we say that God loves or God is loves? Do we really believe that God loves us and seeks our well-being? And do we really believe God wants us to participate in this loving, shalom-building activity? Do we truly believe that God is in the business of restoring what is broken and completing that which is torn apart? Sometimes it seems that we believe God’s love means Jesus forgives us and then throws us to the sharks until we die and go to heaven. When we define love as God seeking and desiring our well-being, sanctification becomes a necessary part of the process of sanctification. This is a very sound and biblical understanding of the God we serve.

Nicholas Carpenter

I like that in loving we are doing good things with and for people, and that itself can be so diverse that we can always be doing good with/for people in ways that will meet the actual needs of a person. Love/Doing good is not a cookie-cutter kind of action, but an individual and personal working that causes (and requires us) to get to know a person that we may have a loving relationship with them and learn how best to love them. And in carrying out those loving actions, we intern receive love that makes us feel good of ourselves, resulting in the continuation of loving actions. Loving produces more love! (hopefully)

Jonathon Wren

I believe that love does in fact promote well being, but I am apprehensive to focus so much on well being.  As humans, we are always trying to do all we can to live a “good life”, one that results in being heavenly bound.  Thinking in such a way that focuses on what we do is dangerous.  We are so inclined to try all we can to live a good life to the point that we loose focus of the love and try and follow rules and make it objective. This cannot be so.  We must focus on our relationship with God, in return He teaches us to love.  This love is then shown in the things we do and loving actions.

Cory Bernaiche

I agree that in our society we have turned “love” into a common word that has lost much of its meaning and purpose. We have equated love with our feelings about food, toys, cloths, and home decor. I enjoyed how you put a frame around what love means. I appreciated your connection with scripture. I believe it is important to focus on who Jesus was and how he responded with love. If we focuses on this we can bring the meaning of love back and place some emphasis on how we should respond as Christians.

Robbie Schwenck

I like this definition of love. I especially like that it says love is acting “intentionally” for the well-being of others. I think this provides a necessary emphasis that we need to be intentional about loving others. We cannot just be passive in our relationships and hope to promote the well-being of others. We must act intentionally by taking steps that will allow us to make the lives of other people better in ways that they need. I think this also helps us to remember that loving people is something we can do in many ways. We just need to recognize those ways and act on them.

Topher Taylor

Is it love then to limit ones abilities to make real decisions? We say that God is love, or that God promotes overall well being, is this included in the actions of hardening Pharaohs heart? Is it still loving, or a promotion of well being if their is intent to do good but the consequences aren’t as good as you were intending?

Aaron Moschitto

I think within the Christian narrative, love means something completely different than it does outside of this context. The Christian value and imperative to love is something far beyond a feeling, but is a eschatological reality that is realized when enacted. The command to love is an invitation to life and the Kingdom of God, so whenever we choose something other than love we choose to find our identity in something other than God. In this way I would expand the definition to include not only the immediate context of love here and now but also the lived love as an eschatological reality that is brought into the present.

Rachel Ball

“God loves by doing good.” If this is true entirely and irrevocably, then what happened when God called for nations to be destroyed by other nations in the Old Testament? Maybe our definition of ‘good’ is vastly different from the actual definition of ‘good,’ God’s. God know what will be overall best for us so he acts in a way that seems evil to us in the here and now?

Furthermore, would that make sacrificial love impossible? If God is love and love can only do good, who is to say that sacrifice is good? How do we judge whether or not something counted as a true, good, sacrifice, or was actually a mistake where we thought that sacrifice was the best good that could be done.

Andong Yue

Still, the problem is, as we discussed in class, it is very difficult to define “well-being” because everyone has slightly different definitions. And also, it is extremely hard to measure “well being”, and it is even harder to measure “overall well being”. Thus when we try to love, the best thing we can do is to do things which we think are good for the “overall well being”. Theoretically, there is nothing wrong with such thought and action. However, we often get things so terribly wrong when we try to promote the “overall well being” (for example, social security).

Cassidy Ball

One of the largest actions of love in the Bible is Jesus’s self- sacrifice for the world. He also healed sickness and cast demons out of people. With these examples it’s hard to think that we are supposed to follow in the footsteps of Jesus to love others. Those are big shoes to fill; but there are other ways we can love and promote well-being around us. Although there are people who do missions and world projects to serve people doesn’t mean everyone else’s acts of love don’t matter as much. Love is intentional and we must make a conscious effort to show it even if it is just in small ways such as being encouraging to someone or making a meal for someone. “Promoting overall well-being can mean acting in a wide variety of ways when doing good.”

Michael Gordon

It is true that there are many reasons for the use of the word love. Love is used more than ever in our society and because of it, we now have a hard time defining what love is. Jesus did give us the perfect example of love, which was repaying evil with good and expecting nothing in return for it. That’s how we should live our lives in a sense to help other and repay evil with good. Most often people don’t have trouble with that part of the equation, it’s the selfless love that they struggle with in the sense of expecting something in return for their loving gesture. We have this urge to help people, but on our own terms and for our satisfaction so that we can feel good about it. It no longer becomes about the person we are helping, but a way for us to feel better about ourselves.

Cali Carpenter

I really enjoyed reading this blog post. In the past, I have not given love very many definitions. When thinking about love I just think about how much I love my parents, or the love that I have for music, and so on. I am now being challenged to think about love on a much deeper level than I have in the past. For example, the claim was made that we are able to love because God loved us and died on the cross. While this seems like something obvious, it had never crossed my mind before. I always thought of love as simply a basic human mechanism that most people had, but I now know it entails so much more than that.

Noelle Parton

This past week I’ve been thinking a lot about what is going on in the Middle East. I can’t help but think that with all of the horrific acts that are being carried out by extremists, wouldn’t it be the loving thing to do for America and our military to step in and “take care of” the situation? As I think this- that it would be promoting the overall well-being of everyone who is not them to step in, the command of “love your enemies” is presented yet again. It causes me to think.

Tawni Palin

I agree that “Love” is an intentional act, but I want to add that it is an intentional choice. As humans, I believe that we are not capable of unconditional love. We can come close, but in the end we still choose to love… it isn’t natural. If we are to “promote the well-being” of others than we are choosing to take that action. I want someone to talk about choice and love.

Lexi Sterling

We are called to promote the overall well-being of others. As the post said, quoting the Bible, love “repays evil with good” and that “love does good by building up rather than destroying.” In repaying evil with good, we are helping to promote the well-being of others, and that is definitely something to take away from this post. To repay with a blessing instead of evil…love is the act of doing good. I always enjoy these posts because they challenge me think of my definition of love in new or different ways… before this class and these blogs, I never really gave love a lot of thought, or a lot of definitions I suppose, to love. So I really enjoy this challenge of thinking about love in new ways.

Allison Christy

I appreciate that the definition of love you chose to pursue focuses on the end result of love as promoting overall well being as opposed to simply doing good. I think more often than not when we choose to look at love as only producing immediate, positive results we lose the deeper meaning of love, in that it produces something much greater than instant gratification. If we look at the ends of love as promoting well being, not only do we have a more realistic view of what love is, but I think we also can have more respect for the means of love as well. In many cases, loving someone requires something that might appear to be less than “doing good” in the moment, while it produces overall well being in the long run. If we are able to understand that the consequences of love are not always immediate, then we can have more of a respect for love that is practiced that might not, at first, appear to be “doing good.”

Matt Silva

I am not entirely comfortable with defining love exclusively in terms of action. I think that by focusing exclusively on the actions that show love, we overlook a lot about what love actually is. I think actions can be loving, and that love that does not act is not really love, but in both of these instances love is not the action itself, but the motivation behind the action. Defining love in terms of action denies the deeper aspect of love that I believe most people would want to include in their concept of love. Equating love with a type of action seems to be too shallow. The action is a result of love, but love is not the action itself. I think defining love in terms of a motivation/ value judgment/ or general orientation (that results in loving action) would be a better place to start.

Connor Magnuson

While reading the contents of this post, I couldn’t help but raise the question to myself of, ‘is God’s love equal to the way that we are able to love?’ When Dr. Oord writes that God’s love is promoting the well-being of others, I thought somewhat radically about how Jesus had the power to physically heal people. This certainly falls under the ‘promoting well-being’ part of the love definition but humans are not capable of miracles by themselves; only through God. Via the principles of deduction, God’s definition of love must be different than humans love. We have partially discussed this concept in class, but I wish to further my understanding of it throughout the course of the year.

Kara Den Hoed

I think the idea of love meaning “doing good” is a really helpful way to put a definition on love. A lot of people wonder if love is a thing, a feeling, or an action. Saying that love means doing good, makes it so that love is an action. If we look at love as an action, I think it is much easier to grasp and express. It is still a little vague because there is the argument that love is something you feel not just do and so on, but for me, it helps as a place to start because ultimately, like Jesus said, love is doing good. It is a good starting point for further discussion of it’s meaning and defining it in my head.

Julie Armbruster

I would like to think that most people have an idea of what love is and is not. However, not everyone knows how to love in the ways that you wrote about. I was one of those people who didn’t know how to love someone with my actions (doing good for others, to make their day better, or to let them know that they are special). Someone taught me that doing good for others is a stronger way of showing my love for them instead of always saying the words. Love is not only our actions but the intention behind the actions. I also agree that our intentions behind love should promote the well being of others.
Love has many facets, it can come as a punishment from a parent to a child and as accountability for the addicted friend. I can not say that I know everything about love but I am not done learning either.

Kevin Field

The emphasis on well-being is important in connecting the sensation of love to an action. I think this connection is the most reliable way to confirm the fullness of our love for others. When we are moved by compassion and act out of love we experience not only the vision of love but the energy stored within it. Defining love as the promotion of other’s well-being makes it difficult to separate love as a feeling and love as an action. If we truly care about someones well-being there will be moments in which we are moved to act and make a change. Through this understanding and the experience it promotes I feel that love can be grasp in a more holistic and powerful way.

Michael Delie

The connection of love to the promotion of well-being is very interesting to me. Based on the definition used at the beginning of the blog, to love is to promote OVERALL well-being. This clarifier changed my mind slightly on how I think about love. I had originally thought that love was always directed singularly at the other party, in a completely selfless manner. The definition almost makes it sound like loving someone (e.g. God) is to promote well-being of also yourself and those around you. I still believe the very essence of loving someone is by being solely focused on their well-being, but it is an interesting thought that you might get a certain ‘well-being’ from loving.

Kendra Wilson

This is a great blog post and something I ponder continuously. As you mentioned before in RM 12:21 “love repays evil with good” and is such a critical part in the Christian walk. To show and outwardly express our Christianity to others is to repay evil with good. That is such a hard thing to do and a lot of people in general struggle with it and if we can just love by that statement alone not only will we feel better about ourselves but others will see the light shining out of us and want to be apart of who we are. It’s such a great way to show people to Christ.

Tyler Mahaffy

Love can have different meanings to many different people. Like Kara Den Hoed stated, some people interpret love as either an action, feeling, or even a thing. For me, I view loves as sort of a fusion of action and feeling. We feel love, and when we do, we feel the need preform an action to show that love. And to me, that especially holds truth for the concept of well-being. For either community or one-self, it has to start with a feeling that will soon lead someone to compelled to make an action.

Rachel Finley

This article seems to imply that love is intentional, and I most certainly agree that it is. Acts of love are typically stemmed from a loving attitude. It is our choice whether or not we will decide to act in a loving way towards others. The amount of love we project may vary from day to day; however, the more we choose to have a loving attitude on a daily basis, despite the circumstances, the more love will become a part of our nature.
Although love is a choice, it takes love to make love. If we never feel love from God or others, then our chances of choosing to love others is very slim. The love we show others is a projection of the love first shown to us. Therefore, if you find that you are typically not showing love to others on a regular basis, then it would be beneficial to examine the sources of love in your own life. If you are not getting an adequate amount of love in your life, then maybe you need to make some changes in your relationships.

Toniessa Phelps

This blog points out many important issues that people come in contact with almost everyday. The issue of love. When you pointed out that especially American just throw the word love around it can confuse people about its true meaning. I agree with your definition of love promoting the over all good for someone either by making sure their basic needs are met or just taking time and speaking with them to help improve their mental health. I find this subject hard though because I just can’t seem to ” love” everyone I come into contact with. I obviously love my parents and husband want to do the best for them but the man I just saw on the street, I’d rather show him kindness and in class you mentioned that is different. So I guess I just can’t seem to love everyone but instead just show kindness but that will probably be brought up again in class.

Randy Kingsmore

The thing I really like about this definition is the variety of actions that can be considered loving, especially in a romantic relationship. This idea that I love my wife by creating elaborate romantic moments that make her feel special/treasured is difficult to create on an on-going basis over a long period of time. Life is not a movie. The idea that creating a secure/safe place to raise a family, if done intentionally, is an act of love. Not engaging in a personally gratifying activity to attend your child’s basketball game is an act of love. At the beginning of this class I thought I would learn to love, but it’s turning out that I love quite a lot. I was just didn’t have a good definition of what love is.

Brianna Kinghorn

This definition of love, overall, I think is accurate. It encompasses the different types from romantic, to friendship, to communal love. The only problem is that not everyone seems to love like this. There is a tendency to give a lot of effort to one type of love, mostly romantic or self, and do not extend it to all the other forms of love. Or it doesn’t have to basis of overall well-being. Love is a hard concept because of all these different kinds. However, when we all can start to comprehend and practice these concepts, we can have more over all well-being which will lead to more happiness.

melissa verhage

I like this thought of love being an action that is done intentionally and for the right reasons. I believe this is what love should be. However, I would also add along with intentionally and for the right reasons, love being something that we don’t have to work to do always. It should be something that we want to do and doesn’t always take that much effort to accomplish. Love to me is at times hardtop to do, but I also believe that it shouldn’t take a lot of thought and effort to show.

Linnea Phillips

I believe that many people tend to associate “love” with a feeling or an emotion. However, over the years I’ve learned that these feelings are a result of what love does. In my opinion, love is an action that promotes Christ’s values. That being said, I would agree with Dr. Oord’s definition of love: To love is to act intentionally, in sympathetic and empathetic response to God and others, to promote overall well-being. I think this definition is extremely important to remember in moments of anger. It’s extremely common to want revenge, but we must remember that God commands us to “repay evil with good” and therefore, act in a way that promotes overall well-being.

Taylor Gould

This definition of love is probably the closest definition that I can agree with completely. The fact that it is only about promoting well being in others is what makes it such a unique aspect of life. Love is about giving all you have. And in times, that may be without getting any love back. Too frequently we are acclaimed to loving those who don’t know how to love you back, and that’s just part of life. You don’t love someone in hopes of gaining from it. Yes, when you do gain from it it is amazing, but our main reasoning to love someone should be to make their life better first. Not ours. But then I think this creates a problem with self love, because if others can’t love us back how do we continue to love ourselves fully? I think spreading love just in the hopes of it changing other peoples aspect of life, is why we should do it. Don’t think about others not loving back, just choose to spread love and joy to all no matter what. That’s what Jesus did, and I believe that’s how we should aspire to love.


I agree with Dr. Oord and most of my class mates that love is more easily understood when we say it’s meaning “doing good”. Love is an action or feeling. I feel love for someone or I show love by doing and action for someone. I think that this is a good basic understanding idea of love, that love promotes overall well-being. A good example of this is Jesus. He promoted overall well-being in everything he did and he did actions or had feelings that showed his love.

Kayla Sevier

I agree that love directly relates to “well-being” and helps explain what love is. Though I also find that the term “well-being” almost just as abstract as love. What I mean by this is we are asked and wonder what our definition of love is and suppose we do actually come to conclusion or agreement that it ultimately means promoting well-being. But that then raised the question of what is well-being? Isn’t well-being different to each person? Again, I agree that well-being had to do with love but how does different definitions of well-being fall into place?

Matti Munger

I really like this definition of love because I feel that it covers pretty much everything that love needs to cover. It doesn’t have to be something that is going to hurt you for the good of others, love can be mutually beneficial and that’s when I think it is usually the best kind of love. I like that love is also defined as an action because it completely is. It’s obviously a feeling as well, but if we are showing our love for someone it is usually in some acted out way. Dr. Oord’s definition covers all the bases of what love really means and that is hard to do.


I’m glad that you mention love is used in so many ways. This is very true and I am sure all of us have used it in various ways that have multiple meanings. However, I don’t think that it is easy for everyone to view love as promoting overall well being. I do not disagree that this is part of the definition of love, but I think the concept of love and the actions of love or out of it describe more than overall well being.

Jacob Neff

I agree with Dr. Oord, that love has to do with promoting well-being. I also agree that loving acts are often intentionally done, but I do wonder if that’s always the case. It seems to me that, at least with some love, people make a habit of acting lovingly towards another person, to the point that they act lovingly by reflex sometimes. ie. many parents act to provide for their children and protect them. And in times where they act reflexively to danger or other something else in a way that protects their child, I’d contend that they act lovingly even without thinking about it. Granted, much more of the time loving actions are done intentionally, but I feel like that isn’t the only case.

Caleb Gerdes

In middle school there was this health teacher who’s one of her main points was saying that the most important important person to yourself is your own self. I rebelled against this idea and missed that question whenever it came up on quizzes all semester long. Talking about love of self and overall-well being brings up these thoughts again.

Allie Kroeger

“Doing good” and “promoting overall well-being” seem so broad to me. There is so much that can fit into that meaning, but also I think this definition can make love different from person to person. I can’t decide if this is a negative or a positive thing. To me, it makes sense that love would be promoting the well-being of others. If we truly strive to think about the well-being of others at all times, how could we not be loving not only everyone around us but also ourselves?

Kamerron Monroe

I agree with the idea that love is doing something to promote the well being of others but i feel your definition is too broad. There are a lot of different ways to love. Love isn’t always what we think and we don’t always get to see the “good” in it at that moment. I also think that using God in the definition isn’t always necessary. I feel like sometimes we contribute too much to God and don’t see that some thing just happen or are the cause of other unknown beings. It would be interesting to see what other religions use instead of God.

Brenden O’Neill

I do believe that the phrase, “to promote overall well being” is vital to a Christian understanding of love. For example, James chapter 2 talks about how a Christian faith is nothing apart from the works that one accomplishes. There has to be that accountability to the call that we are given. I realize that that last sentence was a little confusing. Think about it as a relationship. There has to be that trust in order for a relationship to succeed. Therefore I have to prove that my love for that person is real. This is how I view my relationship with Christ this same way. My love is proved authentic through the actions that I make on a day to day basis.


This definition of love is very good. I like how it relates to the well being of an individual, because largely it does relate to that. I feel like love is expressed in many different ways. Not all humans have the same idea of love like maybe Americans do. Perhaps if we look at the culture, values, and traditions that people have around the world we could see how they express love. Love is very hard to define in my perspective. Like I have previously mentioned love is expressed in many different ways and sometimes perhaps not in the nicest manner.

Spencer Hassman

I really appreciate the phrase “overall well-being” when defining love; I think it brings in a lot of important aspects and elegantly allows for the inclusion of significant pieces of love, like sacrifice, while leaving the door open for more controversial acts, like aggression. However, it does open a whole can of worms concerning the definition of well-being. Well-being is defined differently from culture to culture and person to person, and not in just minor ways. Even amongst members of the Christian faith, deciding what defines well-being in any one particular situation or circumstance is very difficult. But maybe that speaks to the idea that there are several ways to act lovingly, and that we may not or cannot know which is the “best;” maybe there is grace in the midst of both our possible ability and inability to love perfectly.

Curtis S Mostul

I love your definition of love, it holds a lot of weight while also being easy to bear. It brings be comfort to think that every time I am promoting someones well being I am promoting Love. If the person is a complete stranger and they do not even know me it is this act of love that could change their day or make their day that much better. When I think about how I can make the world a better place it is not often the little things that I take into consideration but the big things. However, I think that with this definition even the small acts of Love can be big.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Type in all 5 of the digits below to leave a comment. * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.