Thursday, March 6, 2014


What is Love?

St. Paul tells us that love is the perfect bond of unity. Colossians 3: 14 Yeah! I really love that! Love, love will keep us together.... (I sing in my head.

Unity! On of my favorite pictures of love is my family, including my dad and mom, all my brothers and sisters and their kids singing together at the family reunions. Such wonderful family unity. The gentle memories make me feel cozy and secure. My guess is that your memories of love bring happy, warm feelings too. For we know that love is patient and kind. I am comfortable with that kind of love! We all want that kind of love, don’t we?

Love certainly can be easy unity, smiles and pats on the back and affirmations that a person is terrific! But love is more than just happy feelings where we all get along. Love is more than just Phil Robertson’s slogan of “Happy, happy, happy.”

St. Paul also tells us that love is long-suffering and endures all things. Long-suffering: That’s not such a fun word. That means love isn’t always happy, happy, happy. Love must also be able to take the emotional punch of
an insult and not returning a hostile word. Love is not only smiling, but calming yourself down and listening when you want to be heard. That means love suffers.

What else does the apostle tell us about love.

Love is not jealous. Love is not conceited. Love is not selfish. Love isn’t easily provoked, nor does it hold grudges. (Gulp.) That means that loving others often means pain for us. It means less of what I want. Putting my rights and even my needs, my comfort and my happiness after the needs and comfort and happiness of others. Love often has to be content with receiving the raw end of the deal. Nobody talks much about that kind of love.

The best news is that love is the greatest of all eternal things and it rejoices in the truth. So there is lots of good news when it comes to love. The bad news, to some, might be that love also behaves! (I Cor. 13: 5-13) Love abhors what is evil and clings to what is good. (Rom. 12: 9)
For love practices righteousness. In fact, the apostle is quite clear, those who do not practice righteousness do not love (1 John 3: 10, Gal. 5: 13).

Love is known by its absolute obedience to God. (John 14: 23, 24, 31; 1 John 5:3, 2 John 1:6). For if you are not obedient to God, you really don’t know the full truth of love. So.... (sigh) love can be a lot of hard work. It doesn’t always feel good, or comfortable or even nice. Love labors. It is shocking to some to find out that love isn’t always natural, for sometimes we must pursue love and flee from evil! (1 Tim. 6: 11). 

So, are you liking love? (smile...not so much, huh?)

It is most uncomfortable in today’s world that loves requires such courage and self-sacrifice that we will not rejoice in unrighteousness. At first that seems to be no big deal. But in actual practice, that is truly tough love. To truly and completely love others, we cannot condone evil that we see in them. I cannot imagine anyone actually liking that part of love. Nobody wants to confront and make waves and get into an argument. Nobody wants to be disliked. So when controversy comes, they always remain silent.

There are of course times to discern when to keep silent and when to speak, but the reasoning of love isn’t that you are uncomfortable with confrontation. Love always thinks of others, not one’s uncomfortableness. So your basis to speak or be silent is the need of the other person, not his wants nor your wants. Loves means to speak when the person needs to hear truth, whether you or the other person will like it or not. Love means a lot more than just happy talk. Even angelic talk can be without love. (I Corinthians 13) And I am afraid I am seeing that a lot--people talking in order to make people feel good rather than speaking for their actual good. 

Nobody wants to be on the receiving end of love when you are hearing about your mistakes. That makes us feel judged and not loved. But we cannot trust our feelings on this one. Our feelings must be courageous not only to give that type of love but to receive it. And it goes both ways. If someone who loves us wrongfully judges us and tries to correct us, we have to be long-suffering and forgive them. They meant well.

However, there are those few people who actually seem to like pointing out other’s moral failures and that isn’t love either! L
ove doesn’t just lob truth at another person and then run away. Love means that if you do say something to another for their own good that you know will hurt them, you stay and endure the fires of their hurt with them. Love doesn’t abandon. Nor does love self-righteously go around handing out “truth” to make oneself feel good and rack up points with God. Love is about the other. Love serves.... (Gal. 5: 13).

Christ tells us that love demands heroism! (1 Thessalonians 1: 3).
Love sacrifices its own life for others (I John 3:16, Eph. 5: 2). Love is manifested not in timidity but in power and discipline (2 Tim. 1: 7). And this is where many people’s love fails. 

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