What is the difference between love and lust? I think I'm in love with a girl who goes to the same college I do, but sometimes I wonder if it's just physical attraction. How can I know? I don't want to make a mistake. — C.D.
Physical attraction may draw us to a person -- but you are right: It isn't the same thing as love. And you are wise to be alert to this danger; tragically, far too many people confuse the two, and their marriages often don't last.
Love between a man and a woman is more than a physical attraction or an emotional feeling -- although those have their place. True love is an act of the will -- a settled commitment to seek what is best for the other person. True love doesn't demand; true love gives. True love doesn't ask, "What can I get out of this person?"; true love asks, "What can I do to help this person?" To put it another way, true love isn't self-centered; true love is self-giving.
I could say much more about this if I had the space, of course, because it will take you a lifetime to explore the richness and complexities of human love. But let me suggest a test: Would you love this person even if she lost her physical beauty (as she will eventually), or if her body were ravaged by cancer or disability? The Bible says, "Love is patient, love is kind. ... Love never fails" (1 Corinthians 13:4, 8).
This is the kind of love God had for us when He sent His Son to die for our sins and bring us back to Himself. Open your heart to God's love by inviting Christ to come into your life -- and then ask Him to guide you in all your decisions about the future.