We love our spouses.We love chocolate. We love baseball. And reading and summer days. We use the same word to describe how we feel about our kids and our favorite TV shows. Something doesn’t seem right, would you agree?
Man’s idea of love is all wrong. We love things that make us feel good or things that make us happy. The Bible’s definition of love (which there’s actually a dozen or so different words used where we use “love”) is not the same as what society believes.
This post was prompted by a sermon at my church. You can watch it here. I love my church!
When the hustle and bustle of life sweeps us up, it can be difficult to remember why we actually celebrate Christmas. God, the Creator of all things, humbled himself and came to earth as a man. Okay, stop right there. Seriously? God became a man. If you were God would you come to a place where you knew you would be rejected, humiliated, tortured, and killed? Let’s be honest, none of us would!
He lived among us, though He was perfect and without sin, he chose to live, sleep, and eat with sinners. He knew from the beginning of time that he would come to earth, live by example, and would endure a criminal’s death. He knew and he still chose these things. That my friends is love. But since we aren’t God and we can’t save all of humanity with our actions, what does the Bible command of us?
Enter 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7.
I know, I know. These verses have been used and used again at weddings, they are framed on our walls. Maybe you’re tired of them, but take away all of your preconceived ideas of this bit of Bible and hear me out. Here’s the game, every time you see the word “love” replace it with your name. I’ll have a go with it.
Jerri Ann is patient and kind. Jerri Ann is not jealous or boastful, Jerri Ann is not proud or rude. Jerri Ann does not demand her own way. Jerri Ann is not irritable, and she keeps no record of being wronged. Jerri Ann does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Jerri Ann never gives up, Jerri Ann never loses faith; Jerri Ann is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
Yikes! I feel like I just told a handful of lies. As far as my Biblical love score goes, I feel like I could do much better. How about you?
What Does Jesus Say?
When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was, he responded with this.
Matthew 12:29-30 “…The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”
So, really the greatest commandment is: Love God and Love Others. Once we know God, I would say it’s pretty easy to love Him most of the time. What do you think? When we really know Him and understand what he’s done for us, our love often overflows. But what’s this loving others business?
I know. You love your mom and your husband and your grandpa. But what about your boss? Or your coworkers? Your neighbors? That homeless man on the side of the road? Yeah, those people don’t make us feel good.
Love, my friends is not a feeling. It’s a choice. We have to choose to love. When our spouse forgot to take the trash out after we’ve asked 3 times that doesn’t make us feel very good, does it? That “feeling” of love isn’t always there, even with our spouse, so we must choose to love.
Do you often wonder what your purpose is here on earth? I won’t open a big can of worms, that’s a big question. The short answer: Your purpose (and mine) is to love. We are called by God to love him and others. We love him by loving others. Our hearts are full of love for God, but if we really want to show how much we love him, love your enemy. Now do you see just how different Biblical love is from man’s definition?