The Greatest of These

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! We’re back today with the second half of my love post. If you didn’t get a chance to read last week, pop back HERE and read and then come back and catch up!

We’re talking about real love this week.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I enjoy Hallmark movies with all their romantic cheesiness, but we have to be real here and admit that that is not love. It’s romance, but there is a very clear difference between romance and love, and I want to talk about love today.

What is real love? Godly love?

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” — John 13:34

If you need a love guide, start by reading your Bible. God loved us enough to send His son Jesus to die for all of us so that we could be in heaven with Him one day – we didn’t do anything to earn that. Actually, we acted horribly and were living in sin! But He still loved enough to make a sacrifice to win us to Himself. He loved enough to do the hard thing for the greater good. He gave us Jesus; if you read the New Testament, you will quickly see that Jesus was love. He walked through towns and sat in homes and He served. He calmed fears. He healed sick bodies and sick hearts. He never shut people out because they didn’t do something for Him or make Him feel a certain kind of way. He never stopped serving because He didn’t feel like it. He never met people at the door with a list of demands to be met before they could receive His love. He saw needs and filled them. He quietly took care of people. He didn’t even withhold His love and service from the very people He knew would one day kill Him. THAT is love. Use that as your guide.

The word “love” is used over 300 times in the modern translations of the Bible – usually when Jesus demonstrated love through service, or ultimately, sacrificing Himself for the world. But, what does real love look like in day to day life for us?

When you really understand godly love, it becomes more about another person than it does about a self-serving agenda. You can overlook flaws and quirks and hurts because you are single-mindedly tending the heart of another person, regardless of how they present themselves in any given moment. It’s about being in the midst of pain, but being able to truly and authentically celebrate a friend’s joy. It’s about being in tough circumstances yourself but reaching out with a gift card or a meal to a friend in need without hesitation. It’s about being elbow deep in your own frazzled life but having a ready ear and a peaceful word and prayer for a friend who calls with anxious thoughts. It’s about checking in on your people even when you feel you’re the one always doing the checking. It’s about giving up the right to be the most important person in a situation or the room. It’s about taking the time to learn your husband’s heart and give him what he needs when he gets home from work — a hot shower, a cold beer or 20 minutes of quiet in a man cave – regardless of how important and pressing you feel your needs are in that moment. Love first.

Love means believing the best of everyone, no matter what something may look like on the surface. Love means forgiving and truly allowing grace to flood your heart towards another person who has wronged you as you step onto a clean slate with them. Love is showing up, committing to being sacrificial in a relationship even when you don’t feel those lovey feelings at the moment. Love means not liking someone very much the day after an argument, but dropping everything the second they call and need help. Love is being the best version of everything. Love enhances all relationships and all situations. And how can we do this? How can we step across the bar of selfishness that blocks the way for true love to be expressed? By the Holy Spirit.

 “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” — 2 Timothy 1:7

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” – Galatians 5:22

As believers, through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can love just like Jesus. It’s a supernatural phenomenon – it’s counter cultural. It’s against our nature of self-preservation and self-exaltation. But it’s a choice. It’s a choice to deny self and serve the other. It’s a humble posture, asking God to change our very hearts towards those in our lives. We should be so close to Him, and so open to being used by Him, that anyone we encounter is flooded with His love through us.

We all want to be important. We all want to leave a legacy. Why don’t we just love, and leave the rest to God? Love those who are difficult to love. Love those who look, sound, and believe differently than you do. Love well in your own homes and let that trickle out into the streets, the grocery lines, churches and schools. Love when people mess up. Love when they hurt you. Love. Just do it. We CAN change the world, and that is how.

I’ll tell you what this real love looked like in my house over the past few weeks – we have all been various degrees of sick, gloomy, and weather-beaten for the past month. Am I the only one that feels like winter is lasting FOREVER?! Well, I was being particularly crabby last week (obviously, I am writing this post for MYSELF today) and hubby took notice and probably sweetly assumed that it was due to being tired and toddler-d out, and not my bad attitude about life. I watched him make a cup of tea one night and take time to wash the microwave of all its crusty fingerprints while he was there. I came back from the gym another night to a surprise of a freshly bathed baby AND a scrubbed tub. I had a bouquet of flowers and a special, sweet card from him even when I had acted like a jerk earlier in the evening. He forgave me without question for said bad attitude, and it hasn’t come up again since. I came home from getting groceries with our curly girl last weekend to a freshly straightened and vacuumed house. Because you see, he loves me. He has learned me, and knows that being home with the kids is tiring and that at the end of the day, sometimes bathtime with a toddler is more frustrating than it is fun. He knows I get anxious and my mind is cluttery when the house is a mess and that I don’t feel free to create, write or relax until its put back together again. He knows that I sometimes feel unnoticed as I take care of our family and home all day. This is love. He did all of these things quietly without being asked, and without asking for recognition or credit. This love is not flashy or gushy mushy, but its real, and I’ll tell you what – it makes all the difference in this life of mine.

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. — 1 John 3:18

Let’s look beyond today – beyond the chocolate, red roses and mushy-gushies, and love with our actions tomorrow, next week, and on random Tuesdays in June when there is no love holiday forcing us to think on it.

The greatest of these is love.

“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Love is friendship that has caught fire. It is quiet understanding, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times. It settles for less than perfection and makes allowances for human weaknesses.”

Ann Landers

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