February is the month for Love. Valentines Day can either be a day filled with romance or great disappointment. I guess it depends on the circumstances. Maybe you don’t care much about Valentines Day, but I think it’s safe to say we all care about being loved. It’s a God-given need in all of us. But when we say those precious 3 words, “I love you”, do we really mean it? Recognizing the counterfeit, requires an acute awareness of what real love is. Do you know?
We’ve all loved, been loved, felt unloved or hurt by love. Regardless, we seem to spend our whole lives looking for it; hoping we find it. For who? For ourselves? Why? Ask yourself, “why do I want to be loved?” or better yet, “why do I love?”. Is it because of how it makes me feel? What if it no longer makes me feel good? Just like the wind, feelings come and go, so how can I rely on them to define love? So, then; what is real Love?
I often turn to God’s word for answers like these. 1st Corinthians 13:4-8 gives the Biblical definition of love:
“4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking,it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.”
In our generation, we talk about love as if it were a noun; a feeling. The dictionary defines it as a deep feeling or intense affection for someone. Is that what we believe? Is it some thing we feel? According to the Bible it sounds more like a verb; something it does or does not do. An action that often requires self-sacrifice; to give, rather than receive. It’s easy to give to those who are lovable, but the sacrifice comes when they are not-so lovable. What then? Oh how difficult it is, to know the answer without being deeply humbled by it. I know for myself, because it reveals a selfishness in me. I admit, I’ve spent a good part of my life looking for true love and the many times I thought I’d found it, it usually didn’t feel very good at all. It was a counterfeit love and I didn’t recognize it. Although today, I must say that I’m happily married to a wonderful man and we both feel love for each other, but I still must continually ask myself, “is it a ‘noun-love’ or a ‘verb-love’?”. (Am I feeling or doing?)
If God defines love as a verb, how are we, an imperfect & selfish generation, to do it right? How do we love so unselfishly? And are we to tolerate those who hurt us? Let me insert a word of caution here; I believe love does NOT require tolerance or attachment, especially to those who hurt us. However, Love DOES require forgiveness; letting go of resentment and letting them see Jesus in me. The absence of resentment is the evidence of forgiveness; a byproduct of love. We are a unlovable and undeserving world, yet God still loves us.
At a young age, I read 1st Corinthians 13, and asked my Mom, “how is this possible? Nobody can do this!” Her reply became etched in my heart forever. She said, “it is NOT possible. Only God can.” I wondered then, “why does He tell us to love this way, if He knows we can’t?”. I now believe He holds us to this standard, so that we might see our need for Him. Without God, my love will only prove to be counterfeit in the end. But with God, His love is made perfect in me. God also created us with a deep need to BE loved, knowing that no one could ever satisfy that need, except for God, Himself. He shows us the true meaning of love, so that when we earnestly seek it, we find Him and are fully satisfied.
So, then, what is true love? Well, really…I’d say it’s a PRONOUN. God IS love. So, how does this change the way I view love and how I am to love others? Certainly not by my own efforts. But instead, by letting God into my heart; filling me with HIS love; yielding my own selfish heart and becoming an empty vessel, in which His perfect love can flow through. And when His love is revealed, I no longer need anything else. He is enough and there is plenty to go around.
I wrote this poem after my conversation with my Mom and the lesson on love I learned that day….If Love is… If love is patient, why won’t he wait? If love is kind, why does she hate? If love is not jealous, why envy and want? If love is not proud, why fight & flaunt? If love is not selfish, why won’t they share? If love is not rude, why don’t they care? If love is not demanding, why does he shout? If love is not touchy, why does she pout? If love holds no grudges, when others do wrong? Why do they harbor resentment so long? If love is eager, to believe in the best, Why are they anxious, to accuse and to test? And why do they quit, if love never fails? and hearts are breaking, in their ‘fairy-tale’. I wonder these things and the answer comes clear no man or woman can love so sincere. For God is love, so perfect and real, through the death of His son, His love is revealed. He said to let go and leave it to HIM, “Lord, help me to love, please fill me within. “Use me, Lord, let your love flow through.”
“And so we know and rest on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love, lives in God and God in them. This is how love is made complete in us.” (1 John 4:17)
He who does not love, does not know God, for God is love. (1 John 4:8)
Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down his life for his friend. (John 15:13)