Do I have a Love Deficit?

The term ‘Love Deficit’ has been coined by a few authors and found in a few books written on the topic.  While these authors may have emphasized certain aspects of what a love deficit might look like in the life of a believer from their perspective; in this blog I should like to bring some biblical perspectives on this sacred topic of love, the lack of love that some of us may experience at times, and the deficit that it creates in marriages, families, and individuals as a result. The word ‘deficit’ by definition means, ‘the accounting of a loss, financial or otherwise.’  To have a deficit means that you have a lack of something, or you have lost something that you once had.  So when the Righteous Brothers sang that song, ‘You’ve Lost that Loving Feeling,’ they were really talking about a love deficit. The word ‘love’ by definition refers to, ‘a powerful emotion felt for another person manifesting itself in deep affection, devotion, or sexual desire, a great liking or fondness.’

The Apostle Paul penned a powerful definition of love. “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up (arrogant); does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks (doesn’t keep an account of) no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.Love never fails.”         – 1 Corinthians 13:1-8

  • In each use of the word ‘love’ in this passage and in this chapter, the word agape is used.  This reveals an unconditional love, God’s kind of love.  It’s a demonstration of God’s love being given. It translates as ‘affection, charity, and benevolence.’  Here Paul places emphasis on the action (verb) of love.

Love is a verb, not a feeling. The phrase, ‘I am falling in love with you’ is a misnomer.  You can’t ‘fall’ in love with anyone. You can fall off a building or a cliff or even a turnup truck, but when it comes to love, we all must choose to love someone; or chose not to love them.      

            ‘Love you do, or love you do not, a feeling it is not.’ – Master Yoda

The Apostle John said it this way, “My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. 19 And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him.”                                                                  – 1 John 3:18,19

A person can have feelings for someone that can be translated as ‘love,’ however, the truth is, a person who says they love you but doesn’t show love for you, has a love deficit themselves; and they are also lying. The phrase Paul used to describe a love deficit is, ‘have not love’ and it’s a direct reference to a love deficit; that is, the person who is working at doing good things, is not loving in the process.

So just what is a love deficit?

To experience a deficit of love implies that a person…

               …can’t love because they don’t fully understand love.

               …has a capacity to love, but there is nobody to receive it.

               …won’t love because the risk of pain outweighs the benefits of love.

               …has a warped view of what true love really is and is not.

               …operates in fear and the need to control others for their own survival.

               …is so self-centered that they can’t see the self-lessness of true love.

               …is so full of hatred and bitterness that love is not a reality to them.

               …has never been loved by the people who were supposed to love them.

Years ago some behavioral psychologists wanted to better understand the love a mother has for a child.  They wanted to understand the maternal bond between the female parent and their offspring.  To do this they used monkeys, as did many scientists in the 1950’s.  They took a female monkey and her cub and put them in a habitat familiar to them. They watched over the months as the two interacted, played together, ate, slept, and basically enjoyed one another.  Then when the cub was mature, they took it and had it mate with a male monkey.  Then they took that mother monkey and placed her in a habitat with her new cub and watched them interact with each other.  The scientists observed that the behavior was very similar to the previous monkey family and both the maternal care and interaction between mother and cub. At the same time the scientists took a stuffed monkey and placed it in a habit with another monkey cub.  They observed how the cub would cuddle with the stuffed monkey and try to play and interact with it, but alas, it was just a stuffed monkey.  Then when that cub was mature, it was mated with a male monkey and when she and her new cub were placed in a habit for observation.  The scientists quickly realized that the mother monkey was very hostile toward the cub when it tried to cuddle and play with her.  They had to remove the cub because the mother was injuring it, and if left unattended, would have killed it. 

The ‘Stuffed Monkey’ experiment has been documented and referenced many times over in various reports the reveal that maternal instincts are learned behaviors.  If a young person is not showed how to love, how to lead, and how to care for others by example, they will in turn ‘act out’ when the time comes for them to love.  This is how a love deficit is created.  We have seen this manifested too many times over in cultures around the world.

The lesson here is that if we are not loving the people whom God has entrusted into our care and called to love, than we are creating a love deficit in them because of our disobedience. In other words, we are raising some else’s nightmare, or potential murder victim.  The most common offender here is a father who neglects his wife and kids, thus, creating a love deficit for them because he hasn’t dealt with his own love deficit.  Another common  offender is a spouse (male or female), who neglects the ‘marital affection’ due their partner as a way of coping with their love deficit.  Anytime we act like a ‘stuffed monkey,’ that is, we neglect our sacred role to love within a marriage or family, we span the deficit of love into the next generation of our offspring.

The most common word used in the NT for love (Greek: agape) describes an unconditional love that can only come from the Father.  God gives it to us so we can love others with His love; even when we are not loved in return.  It’s hard for people to unconditionally love their spouse, children, and others while in the midst of a personal love deficit.  It’s difficult to love others from one’s lack. This is why loving with an unconditional, agape kind of love, is the best way we can love (and bless) others even when they don’t ‘love’ us back. 

Jesus Himself challenged us to do this very thing. “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven…46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?”         – Matthew 5:44,45b,46

  • While it’s true there may be a love deficit on the part of your spouse, it’s equally true that you don’t have to be the one projecting their deficit because you’re to be loving them with an unconditional love in spite of their love deficit toward you, other others.  You just bless them!

When Paul said, ‘Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the Church’ (Ephesians 5:25) he is using the Greek word agape for love because that’s how Jesus loves us, unconditionally.  Husbands must love their wives unconditionally and wives must love their husbands, unconditionally.  Families that love unconditionally, love real. If we’re married and we cease to love our spouse, or others, or we cease to love at all, we are struggling with a love deficit. To love unconditionally infers that the person who is doing the loving doesn’t have a love deficit.  They have ‘fueled up their love tank’ and are ready to share their love, God’s love, with their world.  I will describe what a love tank is in another blog; bur for now, suffice it to say that a love take is not a love shack; it’s that vessel within each of us where the Holy Spirit dwells. It is from this well that rivers of living water will flow, if we allow it.

#Did you do your devos today? You can’t give what you don’t have.  If you’re not spending that quality time with the Father each day, you won’t be receiving from Him the love He has for you that you are to share with others. 

The Apostle John said it this way, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”        – 1 John 4:7-11

  • A most basic characteristic that every true believer in Jesus has is the capacity to love with an unconditional, agape kind of love.  It’s as if the Holy Spirit Himself ‘hardwires or downloads’ us with God’s love when we receive Him into our heart as part of our salvation and transformation experience.

Some people call this ‘going soft,’ others call it, ‘getting religion.’  Whatever you call your loving with this ‘God kind of love,’ it must be as unconditional as it is real.  It must be freely given to others as unto the Lord.

The second most used word in the NT for love (Greek: phileo) describes ‘a tender friendship and affection.’  This is a conditional love because it only works when it’s responded to by another person. Many of us have friendships that grow over time as we invest and withdraw within the relationship.  A proper balance of investment and withdrawals makes for a healthier phileo.  Some people take more than they give in a phileo relationship which usually ends the friendship.  If we can continually balance our giving and taking in our phileo love relationships, it will last a lifetime.

A love deficit that manifests within a relationship is self-described; it is what it is, and it can occur as circumstances dictate.  If a love deficit does occur, the ability to love others will be hampered because of the emotional deficit.  This is a most unfortunate thing because left unattended, it will invoke years of unhappiness and a stoic relationship that will go nowhere in the end.  The best way to recover from a love deficit is to communicate the issue with the other person and work though the deficit in a manner that allows for a full recovery. The pain and loss caused by a love deficit can be remedied with a genuine exchange of unconditional love. Some people have a great capacity to love, but there is nobody there to receive it, or so they think.  God is love and we need to put more of God in our ‘agape love life.’ We must continually love others with God’s love as a main part of our SLF. God’s love is an unconditional love, something the world doesn’t understand.  This love is fueled by the Holy Spirit who gives it freely and abundantly. 

“…the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us…”      – Romans 5:5b

  • People in the world will know we are followers of Jesus by the way we love them and each other.  If we can love like Jesus loves, than our testimony of the Christ will shine forth boldly for them to see.

“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.”                                                           – 1 John 3:1

Too many people in the world suffer from a loss of love, a love deficit.  They don’t know of God’s love, which is the only love that can truly heal a love deficit, and more importantly, save a person’s soul. It doesn’t mean that Christians won’t experience a love deficit from time to time, but it does mean that God has already provided the true solution for this deficit; it’s found in Jesus; who is the only real way to the Father and thee true source for love and cure for a love deficit.

Jesus said it this way, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” 39 But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”            – John 7:37b-39

  • The infilling of the Holy Spirit at salvation and the baptism in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues reveals the source of our love. Some of you brothers need to be praying in tongues. There is plenty of information out there on this subject for you to research. This is a gift of God for you, if you want it! It changed my life.

Sometimes people, even Christians, try to ‘solve’ their love deficit issue by getting involved in a relationship they have no business being in.  The fear, insecurity, and loneliness becomes their greater issue and their drug of choice is the world’s version of love that is promoted in the popular culture; but lacks integrity and soul.

This futile attempt at love is the ‘carrot or the cheese’ that the devil often places in front of people to get them distracted from the real love that can only come from our heavenly Father.  Carrots and cheese are often found in traps that can derail or even kill a person. When Jesus addressed the seven churches in Asia-minor as recorded in Revelation chapters 2 & 3.  He first addressed the church in Ephesus.

Jesus said, “I know your works, your labor, your patience (perseverance), and that you cannot bear (endure) those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent. But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.”          – Revelation 2:2-7

While the passage being presented here will not be discussed in detail, the issue of these believers being ‘loveless’ is what Christ is addressing here.  Ephesus was the capital city, the largest in the province of Asia (modern southwest Turkey). It had a large seaport, but it was very immoral.  It was the location of the Temple of Diana, the goddess of fertility. The Apostle Paul planted the church in Ephesus (Acts 19) and spent more time there than any of his other church plants. We discover through other historical writings that the Apostle John pastored the Ephesian church for several years and Mary, the mother of Jesus, died there. Over 40 years after Paul established this church the people were still zealous in their ‘works, labor, and patience.’  They were careful to reject false teachers & liars. Sometimes our zeal for the work of the Lord can dwarf our love for the Lord.  This was the case as their love for God became secondary. The phrase ‘those who love’ infer a first love, a chief love, or a best love which is a sincere love.  Christ’ challenge begs the question for all of us:

Do we love Jesus as a priority and with sincerity, or have we lost our first love?

Jesus recognized the hard work and endurance this particular church experienced, but He also addressed a greater issue, they were doing the work of the Lord without ‘loving’ the Lord of the work! Jesus said that they had ‘left their first love.’  This implies that they got their priorities messed up.  Jesus must always come first in whatever work we’re doing or relationship we’re in.  The challenge here is for the ‘loveless’ individuals to repent of their impropriety and return to a right relationship with the Father. So it must be with us.  In all that we do in our work for the Lord, it must never replace our love for the Lord.  We must be a people who continue to love God first, and do His work second.  This usually will begin with our family.

A love deficit doesn’t have to be your deficit, but you still may have to deal with it because you’re in a relationship with a person that you love, but who may not be able to return that love, or love at all, for whatever reason; thus they are struggling with a love deficit. If this is you, your challenge is to love them unconditionally because they can’t. We can’t always solve the love deficit in others, but we can love them with the same love that God has bestowed upon us; an unconditional agape love. If we are a person who has a great capacity to love others, but it seems as if there is nobody there to love, I assure you, it only seems that way.  You can be in a room full of people and be the loneliest person there; but this should not be so. We were not created to be isolated, alone, and loveless. 

In the Garden of Eden God said it best, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”                  – Genesis 2:18

God provided someone for Adam to love, it was Eve.  Your situation may differ; you may be frustrated or unfulfilled that you don’t have somebody to love in the way that you want to love them.  Please  understand that God has provided you with many people to love and it’s your responsibility to love them unconditionally as God enables.  Most of these people are in your church, and all of them are in your family.  You must not neglect either group, but make your family the priority.

Loving a spouse within the context of marriage is one aspect of love. Loving someone within the context of a friendship is another aspect of love. Not being able to love someone in the way that you want to love them in of itself describes a love deficit, but it doesn’t mean that you have to be defeated by it.  When the kind of love you are looking for is prohibited or unavailable, you still have the capacity to love others as unto the Lord; you must learn to love unconditionally. 

Any love deficit that manifests itself in your life is not the result of your agape. It just means that for this season, the deficit must be met with God’s love which is  greater than any love deficit; eventually your agape will prevail. People with difficult marriages or who are not married but desire to marry for whatever reason; you may be experiencing a love deficit that has created some frustrations, temptations, loneliness, and sorrow in your life. For you, the word of the Lord, the very words of Jesus ring true that one day soon, you will get married.  The marriage you will experience will be real and eternal!  Not everyone marries on this side of the veil, even though you have a desire or have had a desire to marry for many years.  One day you will marry, but not the way marriage is exemplified in this life.

Jesus, while talking with the Sadducees (non-resurrection believers) said it this way, “For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven.”                                                                                      – Matthew 22:30

“Jesus answered and said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage. 35 But those who are counted worthy to attain that age, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage; 36 nor can they die anymore, for they are equal to the angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.”      – Luke 20:34-36

  • Christ is stating that when we get to heaven we will not marry; marriage is only for this life.  However, this being said, in heaven, we will be married to the Christ in an eternal, personal, and holy relationship with Him.  We, the NT Church, the body of Christ, are His bride and He is our Bridegroom.

John said it this way, “And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’ ” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God.”     – Revelation 19:6-9

In this passage we see a type of wedding has occurred and a type of marriage reception has begun.  This wedding occurs at the Rapture/Resurrection and the reception occurs during the seven-year tribulation. You and I, collectively and individually, are seen here as the bride of Christ and Jesus is our Bridegroom.

John further describes this marriage event, “Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”                – Revelation 21:2-5

  • We are the bride and Jesus is our husband; we’re married with Christ forever!

But wait, there’s more… “And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, “Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.”                                                                       – Revelation 21:6-9

  • The bride is none other than us, Christ’ Church.  As a ‘bride’ we are newly married and we obtain a new, revered, and sacred title, ‘the Lamb’s wife.’  This is the eternal ring on our finger, an eternal covenant that Jesus makes with us as His wife.  He is our HOPE!

Whatever love deficit you may be dealing with in this life, it will be finally and eternally remedied when the Master returns for us in the Rapture/Resurrection and again to this earth seven-years later in His glorious Second Coming. Your love deficit, if you have one, is temporary at best.  A love deficit will be the very thing that God will use to refine your love, make it more pure than ever before, and prepare your heart for your coming Heavenly Husband. However you love, just remember that we are called to love others with Christ’ love, and it begins in the home. If you’re having trouble with your spouse or child, work it out, make the recovery the priority, or get help doing so.  In the end, your family is what really matters.  Don’t give up on Jesus, on His love for you and your love, Christ’ love in you, for your spouse, your child, and for others.


Encouragemen is a blog written by Pastor Rob Lee, recently relocated to Southern Missouri.  He lives with his wife of 32-years, near their three adult children, their spouses, and children (their grandchildren).  Pastor Rob is an Ordained Assemblies of God minister, a former Lead Pastor (25 years), police chaplain, and community advocate.  He continues to serve, consult, and disciple men of God, including those who are in the ministry. 

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