"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails."
1 Corinthians 13:1-8
What is love? Is love a feeling? Is there such thing as true love? Is there such thing as being in love? Is there a difference between Christian love and worldly love and if so do we even know the difference? Lately, this has been the topic of more than one conversation and so I decided to investigate it a bit further.
Most of what we understand about love is based on what we have learned from the world and what we have seen on TV or read about in books. We do not fully understand the biblical and godly characteristics of what love is and what it is meant to be. As Christians, our lives should be based on truth and love and it should not be what motivates us. Love does not come naturally for anyone and it must start with loving God above all else. Love must be based on the Truth of God's word and not the philosophies that have been taught to us by the world.
What is love? One of the many definitions according to the dictionary is a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person. What is love according to what God has for us? God's love is self-sacrificing, it is a commitment, and it is unconditional and disciplined. The world has taught us that we can fall in and out of love. It has taught us that if someone hurts us then we no longer have to love him or her. There are conditions that have to be met in order to know "true love"; we have to "work" to gain the love of someone. We are taught that love can fade or die and that the purpose behind it is to get something from it, not to give in return. This view of love is self-seeking and it is why we have such a distorted view of what love should look like.
Matthew 22:37-38 says that we are to "love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."
The first thing to recognize in this passage is the command to love. Is does not command that we are to receive love but that we are to give our love away. We are to love God with all that we are and then we are to love others as we love ourselves. Nothing in this verse declares that what we want or need should be first or that it even matters. Love means looking past the annoyances and bad habits of those around us and instead serving and ministering to them. Now, this is not an easy thing to do but scripture tells us "Above all things have intense and unfailing love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins [forgives and disregards the offenses of others]." 1 Peter 4:8
This means that we cannot focus on the faults of others because if we truly have love in our hearts, then we are able to overlook those things and focus totally on the person and the command that God has given to each of us.
When it comes to relationships and loving, it is not something we are good at but when Christ is our focus and our purpose for living, His love shines through us. Love is a fruit of the Spirit that is given to us when we accept Jesus Christ into our lives. Once He resides there, He alone allows us to love in the way that we are called to love.
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law."
We on our own cannot love anyone because we are selfish and sinful and we only want for ourselves. We have been manipulated by "the world" into thinking that love should look and feel a certain way and this is just not truth based on God's word. It is however, what Satan, the father of lies, wants us to believe and it is why "the world" is always looking for "perfect love". They search and search because they can never find satisfaction in anything because what is really missing is that intimate relationship with Christ. Because of this, their lives are lonely and unfulfilled and they look to people and things to fill the needs that can only be met by Christ.
God's love is divine and it can be compassionate and authoritative; forgiving and stern; satisfying and demanding; and gentle and hard. Divine love is doing what is best for a person in light of eternity no matter what the cost. It is a sacrifice and it has to be based on God's truth because without truth we cannot know love. 1 Corinthians 13:6 says that "love rejoices in truth". Truth is what defines love, it interprets love, it protects love and without truth, love turns into a disaster because of what the world makes it. Love is the manner and method of speaking truth and it is the servant of truth. If there is no truth given in love then it becomes conditional and therefore is not complete. Love can never be allowed to take the place of God's truth and it cannot be allowed to change because truth in the hands of an self-seeking, unloving, selfish person becomes corrupt.
Christian love should be based entirely on truth and the truth of God's word knowing that it is not emotional or conditional and it should not be defined by the standards set by this world. God's love should be seen as a commitment and one's commitment to be obedient to God and His word. When this kind of commitment to Christ takes place, love becomes a natural by-product. When we love Him above all else and give our lives to serve His purpose then we understand and can live out the love to others the way He commands us because we are not looking for something in return. This kind of love is not easy and you will be asked to stretch in ways that you have never been stretched. If you want to live the life that God has called you to live, than you must let go of the simple definitions that this world has placed on love because God's love will not fit into that box. This kind of love requires discernment and wisdom and self-examination of our hearts to make sure our focus always remains on the One who IS love.
"Father teach me Truth so that I may walk in love as You have commanded me. May I know the love that comes only from You and may I share that love with all those that You have placed around me. Show me how to love like You love."