When you read the Bible you can’t help but notice the importance of love. When Jesus was asked what the most import commandment was He said it was to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. He went on to say that the second most important command was to love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:25-31). On another occasion Jesus told His disciples that the one characteristic that would testify to the world that they followed Him was their love for one another (John 13:35).
So it’s obvious that love is a pretty big deal in God’s economy. However trying to pin down what love means and what it looks like can be hard. Several years ago I asked some of the kids in our school to explain what love was. Here are some of their responses.
Love means being punished for something you’ve done wrong.
Love means kisses and hugs.
Love is a gooey, mushy, gross emotion.
To love means to care about someone.
Love means to enjoy the great things.
Love to me is be kind and don’t hit.
Love is fun.
Love is to give a gift of flowers or maybe to share.
Love is the special feeling in your heart that just makes you feel good inside.
I think love is when Jesus died on the cross. I think love is having dates sometimes too.
Love is knowing someone, knowing who they are. Not just what they look like. What counts is on the inside not the out. If you just label someone as hot girl 5 or hot boy 3, that is what they look like. They could be mean or they could be sweet. You have to know them before you can really and truly love them.
I guess [love] is caring about someone. Like when your mom loves you. It can also mean loving a type of hamburger or soda. I love plain hamburgers. I also love coca-cola. I think that is still liking though. And, you could love a type of cookie. But, I think that is still liking. There is a song that is titled this, but I don’t think I remember it. I would have copied the song. That is all I have to say.
Love is when you can’t stand a day without someone.
Love is a passion for a person or God.
The best explanation of what love in action looks like comes from 1 Corinthians.
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NKJV)
Let’s look at what we see here.
Suffers Long-the opposite of short tempered. When I love someone I won’t fly off the handle in anger at every little thing.
Kind-kindness takes the initiative to respond to needs. When I love someone I will actively seek to meet their needs.
Does not envy-jealousy is actions and words that come from suspicious fears. When I love someone I trust them.
Does not parade itself, is not puffed up-feeling or acting superior. When I love someone I won’t treat them as if they were inferior to me.
Does not behave rudely-actions or words that are improper, impolite, discourteous or rude. When I love someone I won’t treat them in a way that makes them feel put down.
Does not seek its own-looks out for others and seeks their best interest. When I love someone I won’t always have to have my way.
Is not provoked-not easily angered or touchy. When I love someone everything they do won’t get on my nerves.
Thinks no evil-Doesn’t have a book keeping track of every wrong every done to me. When I love someone I won’t constantly bring up how they’ve wronged me in the past.
Does not rejoice in iniquity but rejoices in the truth-Takes no pleasure when others fail. When I love someone I won’t receive any pleasure when they fail spiritually, morally or any other way.
Bears all things-A military term that means to sustain an attack. When I love someone I never give up on fighting for them.
Believes all things, hopes all things-Willing to think and expect the best. When I love someone I will give them the benefit of the doubt.
Endures all things-Stays through hardship and pain. When I love someone I won’t give up on them.
I like to personalize this verse to see if I really do this. Read through the verse again and put your name in the blanks.
_________ suffers long and kind to those he/she loves. _________does not envy, parade himself/herself, is not puffed up and does not behave rudely toward those he/she loves. _________ does not seek his/her own. _________ is not easily provoked and _________keeps no record of being wronged. _________ does not rejoice in iniquity but rejoices in the truth. _________ bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things for those he/she loves.
When you personalize this passage does it ring true with the way you treat those in your life? What can we do to help this ring true if it doesn’t? There are at least two things that we will need to do in order to love this way.
Want to love in this way. I afraid the reasons we don’t love the way Scripture says we should is that we really don’t want have this kind of love. We are totally okay with loving and showing a measure of love to those that love us or are like us. We are not as okay with loving and showing love to those we don’t like, don’t like us and aren’t like us. We must genuinely want to love others with the same kind of love that God has given to us.
Surrender to God. The best I can tell God rarely forces us to grow and change in these ways. He could but He chooses not to. Instead, He lays out the best way, which is His way, and then desires that we willingly choose this way. God wants us to love everyone with the same kind of love He has loved us with.
This is an act of surrender on our parts. It is surrendering our will to God’s will. It is saying that since God’s way is best I will submit to God’s way. When we talk about submission and surrender one of the most important aspects about it to remember is that it’s not surrender or submission until we DON’T want to do it. Surrendering or submitting to God is saying, “Even though this isn’t what I want to do I’m going to do it since it’s what you want me to do.”
This may mean we will have to give up sinful racial prejudices. It may mean that we have to give up our sinful pride that makes us feel that we are better than others are. It may mean that we get out of our comfort zone to help others. It may mean that we give someone another chance even though he or she has let us down so many times in the past.
It may mean that we stop bringing up different ways that someone has wronged us in the past. It may mean that we choose not to give up on a relationship that we are considering giving up on. It may mean that we stop telling jokes that denigrate a person, race or sex. It may mean that I put someone else’s wants and desires ahead of my own. It may mean any number of different things to each of us. But whatever it means to you and to me, we must do it.