By definition, love always looks away from self to the other, valuing them for themselves, not for what they can do for us. It is humility in action.
For love to be durable, we must take as a given that people have inherent worth and are therefore to be treated with dignity and respect – whether we feel like loving or not.
We know this in our bones. Look at the Ten Commandments: it’s basically a value statement, telling us to honour God and our neighbours because they are valuable; God as the source of all value, and others because they are His creation. As they say, God doesn’t make junk.
I’m told not to steal: why? Because to take what is another’s is to say that my wants matter more. I devalue them.
If we are all just accidents, the products of blind natural forces, we are no more significant than a rock or a tree and our sense of value is just in our heads.
But… we’re not accidents.