In a month that turns our thoughts toward love, I thought it would be nice to take a look at this thing that “makes the world go ‘round.”
When the world speaks of love, especially this month, we think of romance—chocolates, roses, diamonds…. We tend to associate the word with butterflies in the stomach, and the inability to concentrate on anything but the object of our affection. We think of love as a feeling—the way someone makes us feel—and it’s always good. If it ceases to feel good, then it is no longer “love.”
This “love” has nothing to do with the object of affection, but rather what they can do for the us. It seeks to fulfill a need. Yet, it so seldom does.
Fortunately for us, the world’s version of love has nothing to do with real love. I say fortunately for us because if God loved us according to the world’s definition of “love,” the future of mankind would be very grim indeed.
To find the meaning of real love, the first question we need to ask is not what is love?, but who is love? The answer is found in 1 John 4:8:
“He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”
And 1 John 4:16:
“God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.”
It is vital that we understand this. That, being love, God is the one and only source of love. Apart from Him, there is no love. Everything apart from God that calls itself “love” is a lie.
Real love is not a feeling, but a person. Okay, so God is love. Who is God? As with any person, we can know His true nature by His actions. Everything we read in His Word, tells us that real love is not self-serving, but self-sacrificing. John 3:16 being the best known example:
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
But Christ came not only as a sacrifice for our sin, but as a walking, breathing demonstration of love in action.
“For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.”
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 paints a picture of real love. A picture of God.
“Love suffers long…”
The very act of sending His only Son testifies to this. From the time sin entered the world, the world has hated God. Yet, we read in 2 Peter 3:9:
“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”
And in Romans 5:8:
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
1 Corinthians 13: “…and [love] is kind,”
Kindness was a hallmark of Jesus’ walk on Earth. When He met hunger, He fed it, when He met sickness, He healed it, when He met sin, He forgave it. Jesus did not look on the outward appearance, but on the heart. He didn’t repay evil for evil, but forgave those who persecuted Him.
…love does not envy,”
Materially, Jesus was the one of the poorest men to walk the earth. He was not handsome, nor the least bit popular with the “in crowd.” Yet, He did not envy others. He knew that everything of His Father’s was His to possess, so He was free to pursue the will of His Father instead of His own selfish desires.
…love does not parade itself, is not puffed up,”
Jesus is the Son of God, King of all Kings, and yet, He came to serve, not be served. To the point of washing His disciples’ feet. His constant message was, “serve others in love.”
…[love] does not behave rudely,”
Jesus wasted no words or actions on gossip, cursing, complaining… Yes, He rebuked the enemy, and He called out the hypocrites, but never in vain. He recognized the value in each person as created in the likeness of God, and He treated them accordingly.
…[love] does not seek its own,”
Self-preservation is instinctive for humans. Yet, Jesus disregarded His need for comfort, popularity, safety, even life, to do what was best for us. What His Father wanted Him to do.
“Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” Luke 22:42
…[love] is not provoked, thinks no evil,”
If you’ve ever seen The Passion of The Christ, you have some idea of what Jesus endured on His way to the cross, yet He didn’t fight back. In fact, I believe that as He was being beaten, and spat upon, and mocked, He wasn’t thinking, “Wait till My Dad gets through with you!” I believe He was asking His Father to forgive His persecutors. Because that is what was best for them. He wasn’t thinking of what their actions were costing Him, but what it was costing them.
…[love] does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth,”
The world abounds in activities and forms of entertainment that not only glorify but reward dishonesty, violence, infidelity, gluttony, sexual impurity, and a host of behaviors and attitudes God’s word tells us clearly rob people of their eternal inheritance. Real love should be grieved by all sin as God is grieved. The reality that people are going to hell by the thousands each day should make us weep. Only the Truth can save people from hell, and the Truth should humble us to our knees.
“Pilate therefore said to Him, ‘Are You a king then?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.’” John 18:37
…[love] bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
“So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished!’ And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.” John 19:30
This is the picture of real love, and this is why…
… Love never fails.”
When Jesus commands us, in John 13:34, to “love one another as I have loved you,” He isn’t asking the impossible. He knows that Love, the person, will transform us if we let Him. The Holy Spirit makes the impossible possible for us. Without Him we are incapable of real love.
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” 1 John 4:7-8
How do you know a true Christian? By his love. Apart from God there is no love, only selfish pride.
Let us be in constant prayer that the Love manifests Himself in our lives daily. Real Love. For this truly is Christ in us.
And, if you’re looking for real love in a life partner, look for these qualities and you can’t go wrong. For where there is real love, there is God. And with God, all things will be possible.
God’s grace and peace be yours,