There is an old DC Talk song that says, "Hey, tell me, haven't you heard? Love is a serious word. Love is a verb." As I look back over the last year and my journey to understand the love of the Lord, I see the models He set in place through community and different institutions such as marriage and family to demonstrate the love He has for us. Over the next year, I want to look at the Lord's character more and the fact that not only is He a holy God who loves, but He IS LOVE. That is a staggering thought.
Over the last week, I have been convicted of the model of love that we practice as a culture. We tend to approach love as a feeling, the kind that draws us to a person, binds us to them, makes us enjoy being with them. All of that is good to feel, but as I have studied love as the Lord intended, I have come to one very solid conclusion. The way we approach love is not remotely the kind of love the Lord ordained. Exhibit A would be our country's abnormally high divorce rate. And guess what Christians...you have demonstrated no difference between your ability to "love" your spouse and the worlds. Point for the evil one there. Harsh? Yes. True? Unfortunately. Sugar-coating the truth does not make it any less real. In fact, it isn't loving you at all.
Here is what I have come to understand about love. It is without a doubt an action and not solely a feeling. Our emotion should be the result of actions. If we went into marriage with the mentality that we truly will love our spouse in sickness and in health, when they are grumpy in the mornings, or mess up the house, when they don't wash their dishes, or run late to every appointment, when they get angry, or are hurt and not acting like themselves, when they hit rock bottom and the only one to pull them out is you....those are the moments that test our love for them. There is a good chance that you won't even like them in most of these situations. But if our love is based on affection, it will run at the first sign of trouble.
Love picks that person up when they have hit rock bottom and points them to Jesus. It smiles at them when they are growling in the morning, it serves them when they don't clean up, it covers for them when they run late, and holds them accountable to do better, it is patient when they are angry but calls them to a "come to Jesus meeting" with the Lord about their attitude. It is sticking by them despite their imperfections and mistakes, and it is NOT ALLOWING THEM TO STAY THAT WAY. It is speaking the TRUTH IN LOVE. You can't separate the two.
Jesus said, "I am the way, the TRUTH, and the life. No man comes to the Father but through me." (John 14:6) "Whoever does not know love, does not know God, because God IS LOVE." (1 John 4:8) You can't separate what it is true from the action of love. Love doesn't mean accepting all flaws so we can be at peace and be one big, happy world. I have a very rude awakening for you...the world won't be at peace until Jesus comes back so you might as well accept that idea now. Love means committing to them in spite of the flaws but helping them be better. Think of it this way. Most of us want the best for people we care about. We love them for who they are and we want them to be the very best version of themselves. "I love you for who you are, but I love you too much to let you stay that way." Love means speaking truth when it hurts, pointing them back to Jesus when they stumble, and standing by them even when they push you away for the latter. Trust me, it will happen.
I apologize if this is harsh. My intention is not to cut down but to encourage with truth. I believe God's word is very firm when it comes to what love looks like and for those of us who are Christians, I believe many of us have bought into the world's watered down version and are missing God's plan for us. It breaks my heart. I leave you with a final thought.
"Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue, but with ACTIONS and in TRUTH." 1 John 3:18
Learning His love,