And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. -1 Corinthians 13:13
Saying “I love you” is a pretty big step in a relationship. It can come from a variety of reasons – some right, some wrong, or some places in between. Typically, you get to the point where you want to verbally express your feelings for someone – feelings that are different than those you have for a friend or a family member. A different emotional connection has been formed. It’s a friendship (Philos love) – with some exclusive romance and physical attraction thrown in (Eros love). You’ve really gotten to know the person and you’ve formed a strong bond with them through time spent experiencing life together. You don’t just “like” the person anymore. “Sally, I really like you!” Well, I really like hot chocolate. I really like cars. I really like The Office. But I don’t love any of those things. If any of those things were to go away, I wouldn’t be crushed. But if Sally was gone, and I couldn’t hear about her day, or listen to her fears and hear her dreams, or share life with her, I would be crushed. So, we say, “I love you”. If done without selfish motives, I think it’s an honest thing to say. Even if we’re a bit naive and don’t truly understand the magnitude of those words. After all, initially, saying “I love you” is sometimes based on a feeling. Can you really trust a feeling?
Love without realizing it?
In being a bit retrospective and looking for encouragement for the future, have you ever realized that what you said coincided with what you did? Look back at the things you’ve done for the person that you claim(ed) to love and ask yourself if you ever remember thinking of doing those things for any other reason than because you wanted the best for that person. Was there ever a conscious thought of what you could get back, of how others would see it, or that you had to do it. Or was it was simply: love lived out – unknowingly. At the end of the day, it was about them and not you. (Agape love)
Professing love doesn’t yield to actions of love. Actions yield to professing love. (or truly realizing love)
Feelings of love are just that: a feeling. Those feelings are probably just infatuation or attraction. When life gets tough – when people become unlovable – infatuation can’t turn the other cheek or suck up pride in order to serve, forgive, apologize, or fight for them no matter how uncomfortable or stressful it might be. But true love can. Infatuation says “I love you” so that it can get what it can get – probably physically. Love simply does: sometimes without thinking of loving. I’m sure, though, that the more you experience life and the longer that you’re with someone, you do have to consciously remember the commitment you made to them and remember to show them grace because you love them.. Hopefully you’ve stored up some extra love when those times get tough.
What Is Love?
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
-1 Corinthians 13:4-8
There you go. Paul wrote that timeless description of agape love.
The Ultimate Agape love
God said that He loves me. Great.. But any god could say that – for their own power. But my God, whose words are of great importance, actually went into action.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
In the midst of my crap, Jesus died for me. Some people continually reject Christ – until the day they are finally saved. He loves them just as much as He loves me. You and I could do nothing to earn His love or His affections. He loves us unconditionally. I can’t give him money (means nothing to Him – and my money is His money anyway). I can’t give Him “my life” (because, well, HE gave me my life – twice, actually. At birth. And a new life in Him) The only thing I can give back to Jesus that He doesn’t already have is my sin. As Christians, we need to learn to be better receivers of God’s gifts. That’s the gospel of grace – that angers the religious people. I receive and accept God’s love and forgiveness through His grace in Christ’s sacrifice. Being remade and renewed in Christ through that radical display of love, I offer grace, mercy, and forgiveness to others. Do you see what can happen in a relationship where both people believe and live this out? They are both serving each other and honoring God’s gift in their relationship!
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins”
-1 Peter 4:8.
God’s love covers our sin. Our love for one another allows us to forgive, apologize, serve, and be human. There will be times when you don’t feel like you’re getting the same love you’re giving. The fear of loving someone who may not love you the same is heart breaking. But if you truly believe 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, than it doesn’t matter. You love. And you have hope for the future – wherever that is.
When you realize what love is… what love does… what love doesn’t expect… what love covers… what love saves… you will subconsciously be better equipped to act in love when the situation is such that love is the hardest thing to do at the time.
When you learn to accept the gift of Christ’s unconditional love, you will learn how to reflect that love to another person – unconditionally.
In the same way that Christ died for those He loves, we need to die little deaths to ourselves everyday for those we love. We deny our selfishness. We deny our pride. We deny our time. When we forgive we take the burden from them – and put it on our shoulders – which hurts for a moment.
Donald Miller said it beautifully:
I will love you like God, because of God, mighted by the power of God. I will stop expecting your love, demanding your love, trading for your love, gaming for your love. I will simply love. I am giving myself to you, and tomorrow I will do it again. I suppose the clock itself will wear thin its time before I am ended at this altar of dying and dying again. God risked Himself on me. I will risk myself on you. And together, we will learn to love, and perhaps then, and only then, understand this gravity that drew Him, unto us
Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
When you’ve loved this way you won’t be able to love any other way. You’ve tasted the sweet honey of true love. Lust will disgust you. Infatuation won’t do it for you. Relationships simply for the sake of having a relationship won’t be appealing. Desiring to weave this radical love from God into a relationship will absolutely put off some dating prospects who don’t share the same beliefs. And that’s OK – if not the point!
You will be ruined. Gloriously so.
Think about the saying “falling in love”… You don’t physically fall by sitting down. You fall when you’re walking – when you’re moving… when you’re just going about your day. You don’t ask to fall. You probably fall when you least expect it. It’s not always pretty. It’s not always graceful. It’s vulnerable and honest.
To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us. -Timothy Keller
When I could only see the floor,
You made my window a door,
So when they say they don’t believe,
I hope that they see You in me