There’s so much talk about love and yet at times it seems little evidence of it, even for Christians. At least that has been my experience. Frankly, I’ve been struggling with loving.😤 And it’s not for a lack of knowledge. Anyone who reads the Bible is exposed to hundreds of verses, illustrations and examples of what love is. There is the oft quoted “love chapter” of 1st Corinthian’s chapter 13 that describes the characteristics of love quite clearly.
“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”
Seriously??? If that’s love, I just failed in twelve of those thirteen categories…and my one success is only because I’m hopeful by nature. Still, with those absolutes of “always and never” I can’t say I’m ALWAYS hopeful. I stink.
As we grasp the characteristics of biblical love it sounds wonderful in theory, but we are resistant to it in practice. I find I have a tendency to want to “love” on my terms. In other words, let me love you the way I want not necessarily in the way you preferred to be loved or need to be loved. I personally want love to be a practical, functional, helpful love that provokes growth in you which in turn provides comfort for me. I want to love you when it’s convenient for me, not when you need it the most, but when it fits into my time schedule. I want to love you in ways that won’t cost me too much financially or emotionally.
All in all, I want to love you in a very conditional way. A way that suits me and feels right. And there you have it. I want love to FEEL good. Isn’t it supposed to? In fact, subconsciously I let my feelings toward others in large part define whether or not I “love” them. If I feel good about them, I must love them. If I feel negative, ungracious and unwilling, I must not love them. When did emotion become the barometer of love? Feelings aren’t even mentioned in Corinthians 13, not unless you count, “rejoices in the truth”
The bottom line is that true love is a choice. A choice that requires death. Death to self and death to the way that I would prefer to like
love you. Love dies. This is exactly what Jesus demonstrated when he came down from heaven.
“Who (Jesus) existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death– even death on a cross!” Philippians 2:5-8
Jesus came because of love. John 3:16, “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Salvation was the way we needed to be loved. Jesus gave up everything to love … He left the perfection and comfort of Heaven to be hungry, tired, rejected, beaten and crucified. And it didn’t feel good. It felt like death, because it was.