The Greek scholars Timothy and Barbara Friberg tell us that the Greek word translated love in this verse is an attitude that results “from a conscious evaluation and choice.” In John 13:34 Jesus, using the same word for love, said, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another;” If love is primarily an emotion then it is almost impossible to produce or control, and a command to love will effectually fail. But love, as it is used here, begins with a thoughtful decision.
This type of love can be completely one way. And, truly, this is how most love relationships begin: one way. Based on this concept I can even chose to love someone who hates me. Jesus used the same word when he said, “Love your enemies” in Matthew 5:44. And Jesus is an expert at that kind of one way love. For us, though, it is difficult…nearly impossible... But, in this kind of love, the responsibility to love rests with me not the object of my love. And this struggle for one way love is, perhaps, the Christian's greatest struggle.
It may be a little easier to love someone I go to church with than an enemy… but do I? Here’s a test: think of the individual people you attend church with, and, as you think of each person, ask: “Have I ever deliberately decided to love this person?” Based on the definition of love in this verse, thinking is where love begins. Then we decide to love. Then we struggle to love as Jesus loves.