Love and happiness are like perfume: You cannot pour them on others without getting a few drops on yourself.

To be genuine and lasting, love must be based on a more enduring foundation than mere physical attraction or fleshly gratification. It must include an unselfish desire to protect and help and make someone else happy. It must also involve admiration for the other person’s finer qualities. A man or woman can be in love with their partner’s mind, sentiments, spiritual reactions, and companionship — all of which have little or nothing to do with physical beauty. Real love is a spiritual thing; it’s not merely physical. It’s mostly manifested in spiritual and mental companionship and compatibility, the likes and dislikes and habits that the two have in common.

Even the things the man and woman don’t have in common can sometimes be interesting and amusing. Take my wife’s interest in clothing, for example. I enjoy her little fashion shows because I know she enjoys doing that and does it to please me. As for myself, clothes have never been of any particular importance to me as long as I look clean and neat. I’m more interested in people. I often couldn’t have told you five minutes later what someone I had just met was wearing, but I might have been able to tell you what they were thinking and what their character was like because I may have looked closely and deeply into their heart.

As a young man seeking a wife, my mother once told me not to put the physical features first in my quest, but to seek something more in a woman than that. Most of all seek that indefinable thing called personality. Seek the liveliness of the spirit, the fascination of the mind, the irresistibility of the heart, the magnanimity of the soul — that spiritual part that, in turn, can only be satisfied by the spiritual in you. The things of this earth can satisfy your body, but God has made you so that your spirit can only be satisfied by the things of the spirit.

God’s Word tells us, “Do not love the world or the things in the world,.. the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. The world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:15–17). “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:2, KJV). “For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18).

God didn’t say you wouldn’t or shouldn’t need or desire or enjoy the things of this life, but He admonishes you not to have an inordinate love for them to the point that you put these things before the even greater needs of your spirit.

This is why so many people love me, because they know that I truly love them and really would prefer their happiness and well-being to my own.

If you love the material world more than the spiritual, then it becomes a form of worship of the creation more than the Creator, and God and His spiritual world refuse to take second place in your affections or life. He says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37–39). “You shall have no other gods before Me, For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God” (Exodus 20:3, 5). “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things [your necessities] shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). But then if you do that, He’s happy to give you “all these things,” including the desires of your heart, as long as you delight yourself in Him (Psalm 37:4).

He’s always given me not only everything that I’ve needed according to His riches in glory (Philippians 4:19), but also everything I’ve wanted as long as it was good for me, including good health, a safe and comfortable place to live, enough to eat, sufficient rest, enjoyable exercise, pleasant sights and sounds, and lots of affection and love. He supplies my wants as well as needs because my greatest desire and lifelong delight has been to please Him and to try to make others happy. In return, He’s given me the greatest blessings any man can ask for: friends and family, the love of many children, joy, satisfaction of heart and soul, a feeling of genuine accomplishment, and sublime fulfillment in life. I sometimes feel I could depart at any moment in peace and contentment and complete satisfaction because I have not only seen the glory of the Lord, but the fulfillment of virtually every desire of my heart.

But if you put the desires of the flesh above God or others or the needs of your spirit, then you’ll find that nothing ever satisfies, not even the most total indulgence in the flesh. Those who seek only to gratify their flesh or that of their mate will never find complete satisfaction and happiness. The things of this earth can satisfy the body, but only God and His true love can ever fill that aching spiritual void in the heart, because He created that place for Himself alone.

True happiness comes not in your personal pursuit of selfish pleasure and satisfaction, but in finding God and giving His love and life to others, and bringing them happiness. Then happiness will pursue and overtake and overwhelm you, personally, without you even seeking it for yourself.

I once knew a woman who was always seeking a new lover but never finding one that satisfied or lasted because she was always seeking to get love, to receive love, to be loved. When I suggested to her that, after years of searching, perhaps she needed to learn to give love and to love unselfishly for the benefit of another, this struck her as an entirely new thought. It had never even occurred to her before! She went out and soon found what she had been looking for all the time — by finding someone who she could make happy by giving him her love.

That’s the secret: Look for someone to make happy, and then happiness will find you! “Give, and it will be given to you” (Luke 6:38). “Whatever a man sows, that he will also reap” (Galatians 6:7). Those are God’s laws of the spirit and are just as definite as the laws of physics, such as gravity. God’s laws of the spirit never fail. They always work, either for you or against you according to whether or not you follow them. And the first law is the law of love — unselfish love for Him and others. If you will obey that law and give the love that is His and others’ due, you will also receive love, “for with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you” (Luke 6:38).

This is why so many people love me, because they know that I truly love them and really would prefer their happiness and well-being to my own. Seeing others happy and making others happy is my happiness. And it could be yours, too!

Life, liberty, and the giving of happiness to others — these are things that only God can give and the only things that will ever satisfy your spirit. So if you want to be happy and make someone else truly happy, seek the satisfaction of the spirit that can be found only in God and His love!

Real Love, Copyright © 1998-2012, The Family International