What is love?
(now you’re singing the song, aren’t you? “What is love? Baby don’t hurt me….”)
For the next two weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day, we are going to talk about it: love! It’s a word we ache to hear. It’s a word we overuse. It’s a word that signifies something amazing and deep and sometimes unexplainable, yet we cheapen it by applying it to everything from our favorite guacamole to the purse our friend just got…or to cheese fries, mmmm!
Its definitely the most overused word in the English language and I feel like we fling it around like confetti, just “loving” everything. But the Bible says in John 3:16 that “God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son” – it seems like so many people don’t grasp the depth of that statement, and maybe because we use and overuse the word so much that it has lost its meaning for us. That “love” sounds deep, serious and life-changing! How can we use the same word to refer to just about everything else too?
We obviously want to know more about love – what it is, how to give it, and of course how to GET it. A quick search of available Bible studies on love in my Bible app gave me TONS of options –I stopped counting after 50 and the list kept going and going. Webster online has NINE different definitions of the noun love and 4 for the verb. This time of year the commercials are bombarding you with ways that love must be expressed in order to be real.
Music centers around love. Romantic fiction is one of the most broad and varied categories in literature. The Bachelor TV series is one of the most popular reality shows ever. We absolutely crave love!
But worldly love is really just an emotion – an expression of “I love you because you make me feel good, appreciated or cherished” or because “you do things for me”. It is usually a back and forth of giving and taking, based on performance and romantic feelings and gestures.
On the other hand, Godly love is a sacrificial posture, a conscious choice based on unconditional acceptance and a spirit of unusual service. Godly, true love doesn’t waver with changing emotions or circumstances – it doesn’t go away with disappointment or run away when things get hard. As proof of that, God decided what you were worth and how much He loved you long before you did anything at all, good or bad. He sent HIS. ONLY. SON. to die for YOU because He loved you that much. Let that sink in. I know you’ve probably heard those words before, but have you really thought about it? You didn’t do anything to earn God’s love. He gave it freely before you even existed, knowing that as His child, you were enough. And He never ever changes that love for you – He extends it to you just as you are. Knowing you are going to mess up. Without seeing first how well you worship or serve Him. No career, no title, no set balance in your bank account can increase the amount of love He has for you – He paid in advance. THAT is our model for love. Can we ever, ever live up to that?
I just wanted to spend some time with you for a short intro this week, but next week we are going to dive into what Godly love ACTUALLY looks like – and I’m so sorry to have to tell you, but reality TV is not a great example!! Until we chat again next week, I wanted to challenge you to think of the relationships in your life and really, honestly, decide if you are loving unconditionally, or if your love is performance/feelings based. We need to start loving well in order to start living well and changing the world for the better.
1 Corinthians 13:13 says that out of faith hope and love, the greatest of all three is love. We are commanded to love our neighbor, our spouse and the Lord our God. If God commands it, it must be important, so let’s go deeper than chocolate and red roses and get to some real loving!