The world has a vastly different picture of what “love” looks like. We tend to love things and people because we need them. But that’s not God’s love.
What is the very first thing that pops into your head when you hear or see the word love? Your family? Friends? How about your favorite food? Like Celine Dion sang, let’s talk about love…
When my siblings and I want to go out, whether that be to a football game for school or spend the night with a friend, my dad always asks for the 5 Ws. Who? What? Where? When? Why? I like to apply these questions to all aspects of my life. In this case: love. I’d like to specifically focus on who, what, and why.
What Is Love…?
“Baby don’t hurt me”…I don’t know about you, but that question kind of intimidates me. One reason being, my experience with “love” is not something I like to look back on. Perhaps you can relate. Google defines love as an intense feeling of deep affection. However, the Bible says something vastly different. We can find most of what we need to know in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, but I want to focus on the first part…
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
1 Corinthians 13:4-5, NIV
Keeps no record of wrongs. That one is especially tough for me. To justify my feelings of hurt and sadness towards someone I love, but has wronged me, I like to bring up past injustices they’ve done against me. This allows me to build myself up and attempts to cut them down. This is just not right. It is not “love”.
Although people tend to mistake kindness for weakness that is never an opportunity to harden your heart, but rather to open it further. I cannot hold someone accountable for their sin when I, myself, am just as full of it. Who am I to judge? God is the only judge who can rightly bring judgment upon us because He has done no wrong.
Well, I love my family, my friends, my neighbors, the cat that we may or may not adopt… We love lots of people. But we also may not love a lot of people…
How about the lady with 16 items who’s in the 10 item check out line holding everyone up because she can’t seem to find her checkbook? What about the man or woman who broke into your home and stole some of your valuable belongings? God says to love our enemies, but does that include those who have greatly wronged us? Yes; it includes all because we too have wronged others. Who are we to withhold love when it’s so freely given to us by the One who knows no wrong?
But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you… But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
Luke 6:27-31 & 35-36, NIV
Sometimes the things we love aren’t things we’re super proud to admit we have love for. Like shows we watch but probably shouldn’t. Or maybe a song most people make fun of but you listen to all the time. I find myself caught in making fun of, or participating in gossip about a certain person, but then an hour later we’re hanging out like we’ve been friends forever.
For myself, I have to question why I feel shame towards loving or liking these things. Who am I trying to please? Whose approval do I hope to gain from pretending not to take part in things that others may not enjoy? Also, we run the risk of replacing God with these things, and even people by giving them more space in our hearts.
The answer to that question varies greatly from person to person. Honestly, we’ve desensitized ourselves with the word and the concept of love. “I love these Cheetos” or “I love fun socks.” We use the same term to describe things and people. We relate human beings to foods we eat. Relational love is vastly different from that of our material love.
Another way we fail in Love 101 is that we love for all the wrong reasons. Why do you love that person? Well, they make me happy. What do you love so much about those shoes? Oh, they make me look so cool and everyone’s wearing them!
We love things because of what they do for us and when they no longer satisfy us, we’re done. Knowing this, how and why should we even bother with love? We must simply look to Christ. His love is unfailing, never-ending, reckless, jealous, pure, uncontainable, and unfathomable. Love, true love, is unconditional.
Our Greatest Need
Our idea of love has been so soiled and distorted. We tend to love things out of necessity, rather than them being necessary because of our love for them. We shouldn’t love because we need, we should love because we are loved. Our greatest need isn’t to be filled by delicious Cheetos or fancy shoes or even a special person. What we need is God’s love, and it’s ours for the taking through Jesus Christ.