What's the difference between love and lust?
I believe that both love and lust are about desires, but that the difference is their focus:
Lust focuses on self...it's about selfishness...fulfilling your own wants (and needs?) for your own sake.
Sex before marriage is a good example of lust, for you're basically saying that you can't wait until you're married (or don't want to get married, and just want) to experience sex with this person. But if you really loved them, you'd hold off, and fight the urges out of love for them. One may argue that sex (even before marriage) is an expression of love. The fact though is that lust is just influencing your desires and "feelings", making you think it's love, or making you think it's OK. But if you really love somebody, you'll guarantee a lifelong commitment to them by marrying them...and waiting until after marriage to "express you love for them".
Love, on the other hand, focuses on the other person and commitment with them...it's also sacrificial; fulfilling the wants and needs of somebody else for their sake. Love is also so much more than just a feeling. It's an action, it's a choice, and real love is unconditional (which is often very difficult):
- Love is an action because it's to be shared, not held onto and kept to one's self...it also requires a response.
- Love is a choice because you can actually choose to or not to love somebody or love somebody back. For example, say you're married and somebody else comes along who makes you feel worthy and upbeat. As a married person, you're physically and spiritually bound to your spouse. So even though this other person may cause a more desired "feeling" within you, you must choose whether or not to allow your feelings / lust to turn into love for them, thus committing adultery against your spouse, or setting up boundaries to remain faithful. Another example of love being a choice is arranged marriages. You may not even like the person you're arranged to marry. But now you can choose to love them, which would make the marriage better, or you could refuse to love them, which would probably make the marriage hell. But either way, it's your choice
- Real love is unconditional. For example, look at the people of the world. Look at the jerk who cut you off the other day. Look at the criminal on the news. Look even at yourself. Do any of us/them deserve God's love? Seriously? No, we/they don't. We sin, we reject God's will, we disobey Him, we put other things in life before Him...we really don't deserve God's love. But for some non-understandable reason, God does anyway. He loves us so much that He came to us in human form, born as a baby to experience life as we do, suffered as we do, and allowed Himself to be murdered by the people He loves. Why? So we may be ABLE to spend the rest of eternity with Him. And out of His love for us, God gave us freedom of choice to decide for ourselves whether or not we even want to spend eternity with Him. We don't deserve it, yet He gives it anyway. The Apostle Paul even said that he's completely 100% convinced that nothing can separate us from God's love. We don't deserve God's love, yet He offers it to us, and even in our rejecting Him, He continues to love us (while respecting our decisions). He doesn't love us for His own sake, but for our sake. That's unconditional love, and it's the most difficult one to imitate.