This week has had a theme for me over and over again and that theme has been love. Maybe it is because we are nearing Valentine’s Day, the national holiday that celebrates love. Maybe it is simply a message or lesson that God is trying to give me. Whatever the case, the topic keeps coming up and I’ve been thinking about it a lot.
What Is Love?
If you just say the word, “love”, it is pretty hard to define. Love might be the romantic moments we see in movies or that blush of first love. Maybe it is the way a mother feels toward her child or the way a pet adores us no matter what. All of those concepts seem pretty general, though.
You might think love is an emotion, but after studying what the Bible has to say about love and listening to some amazing speakers on this topic, I truly believe love is a choice. Not only is love a choice, but we can choose to love those who seem unlovable.
Sure, some people are easier to feel loving feelings toward than others. A best friend who is always kind to you makes loving her easy. The “friend” who tears you down or hurts you is not so easy to love. Still, if love is a choice, aren’t we called to love even the difficult people in our lives? Don’t mistake that as letting someone treat you badly. Not at all. You can love someone and not put yourself in a position to be abused by him or her.
How Do I Know It’s Love?
There are some clear indicators of love that God has given us so that we can recognize when someone loves us. They are also something we can live by as we strive to love others. Finally, they show us how God loves us. They are found in 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.
- Love is patient – It does not grow frustrated when someone makes a mistake.
- Love is kind – It does not try to tear you down, make you feel bad, make you feel worthless
- Love does not envy – It is not jealous when something good happens to you.
- Love does not boast and is not proud – It does not try to make you feel bad because the other person has more or has accomplished more.
- Love does not dishonor others -It does not go against the church, your parents or cheat on a spouse.
- It is not self-seeking – Love doesn’t use you.
- It is not easily angered – Love expects the best of you instead of the worst.
- It keeps no record of wrongs – Love shouldn’t throw up things that happened 15 years ago that you’re still mad about. It shouldn’t boil below the surface and erupt over something small (yep, I’m guilty of it, too).
- Does not delight in evil but rejoices in truth – Love isn’t happy when you make poor choices and will speak truth into your life and rejoice when you make right choices.
- It protects, trusts, hopes, perseveres (sort of self-explanatory)
- Love never fails – Love doesn’t just love you when times are good. Love doesn’t fail, even in the hard times.
Do you know a love like the one listed above? I do. It comes from my savior, Jesus Christ, and it is the model I try to live my life by. Now, that said, I am so far from living this model that it embarrasses me.
Sure, with my children and friends I may show many of these characteristics, but what about the person who treated me poorly last week? What about the person who hurt my child’s feelings? What about the person who cut me off in traffic?
This is what has been on my mind this week and I’ve begun to realize just how much work I need in order to come anywhere near to having a loving attitude.
How Can I Show Love?
- Apologize when you need to
- Show grace when it isn’t deserved
- Forgive others for their imperfections (you are imperfect, too)
- Give when you don’t want to
- Help when you don’t have time to
- Pass out hugs when you don’t even like the other person
- Smile when you’d rather scowl at someone
- Speak kindly instead of gossiping
That last one is a thorn in my side. When someone ticks me off, I start a slow simmer that turns into a raging, boiling mess that is nothing like love. I may handle the situation okay in the moment, but then I run the conversation back through my mind. I stew on it. I talk to all my friends about it (a form of gossip).
This is an area I really need to work on. How about you? Does any of this speak to your heart and soul? If it does, let’s vow together to day to follow Christ’s model and have a more loving attitude. When we stumble and fall, and we will, we will pick ourselves up, apologize, try again.