Love. We see it everywhere.
Honestly, sometimes I’m not sure if love is the cute movie version with all the flutters or if it’s that passionate feeling that comes across when watching weddings. There is romantic love, family love, friendly love, and for Christians, there should be loving your enemy.
But what is love? Do we even know?
We hear the word so much in songs, movies, and books it’s hard to get straight. Yet, when life strikes us with this question on how and what love is, there is only one place we can turn to.
First Corinthians 13:1-3 says, “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.”
Ouch. At first thought, I cringe because seriously—how many times have we, as Christians, been like that noisy gong or clanging cymbal?
If we don’t know what love is, how do we even do it? How many times have we been people trying to do great things for God and then slowly…missed the point?
Sometimes my church hands out jobs or services we can do for the congregation, and nine times out of ten I have that, “Do I have to?” look and attitude. I’ve helped my mom load the dishwasher, cleaned my room when no one asked me to, I’ve even written notes to people across the street encouraging them and had the same complaining attitude.
On the outside I might look serving and kind, a girl on fire for Christ, working for His kingdom. But inside? My mind burns with retorts such as, “Ugh—do I have to?” Or prideful remarks such as, “Look at what I’m doing! I really am doing something humble and serving right now. God must be so proud!” And sometimes I go so far as to say, “Ugh, look at her. She isn’t doing what I’m doing!”
Ironic, right? Is this what God asks of us? Is this following in His steps and loving?
What Does Love Mean?
As said before we must take away the world’s definition of love and turn to scripture instead. If you read the rest of 1 Corinthians 13, God is gracious enough to give us a description of what love looks like: its patient, its kind, it always protects, it always trusts, it always hopes and it always perseveres. (vs. 4-7)
But wait. This isn’t what we thought a definition of love would be. Shouldn’t it be an intense feeling? Shouldn’t it be a flutter in your heart? Where are the hearts? Where are the yearning sighs? Where are the head-rushes?
The world’s definition of love is usually a feeling. And as we know, feelings change all the time. One moment you’re light as a feather, ready to tackle anything the world throws at you. Then suddenly something happens, or maybe nothing happens, and it all sinks. All you can see are storm clouds, pain, and destruction.
If that is what love is then why is it so important? If this feeling is love then why without it would we be nothing?
Action or Feeling?
Looking at the definition from 1 Corinthians, I was brought to this question: is love an action or a feeling? Is it that butterfly stomach sensation or is it “doing”?
Let me ask you this: what was the greatest example of love ever shown? It was when the Son of God came from heaven and died on a Roman Cross for sinners. For enemies of God. For those who were killing Him. For you and me.
Was that an action or a feeling? I would say both. Your family can tell you, “I love you,” and sincerely feel it, but if you were about to be run over by a car would they rush to save you? Would their actions confirm their feelings for you? Love can certainly be a feeling, but it is not always. The feeling will come and go but the real proof of love is sacrifice.Love can certainly be a feeling, but it is not always. The feeling will come and go but the real proof of love is sacrifice. Click To Tweet
How Do Christians Love?
So, how do I love when I don’t feel like it and I honestly don’t want to help? Do I just do it and grumble the whole way? Or say, “I’m sorry. I’ll pass. I won’t feel loving while doing this, so I can’t.”
Love is an action, remember? It is self-sacrifice. Jesus didn’t feel like dying on the cross just for fun. He didn’t smile at the fact that He would be tortured that day and face unimaginable pain.
But He did it anyway. Why? Because He loves us.
As Christians, we must love through our actions. We must turn to our Heavenly Father, who is love. Part of love is not complaining, not arguing, and doing it to the best of your ability. You might still not want to do it. That’s life.
But if you seek God’s help, resist complaining, and do it for Him even if you don’t feel like it, that is loving. That’s victory. That is supernatural love. He can and will change your heart to see that this denying of self is a love unlike any other.If you seek God’s help, resist complaining, and do it for Him even if you don’t feel like it, that is loving. That’s victory. That is supernatural love. He can and will change your heart to see that this denying of self is a love… Click To Tweet
When you discipline yourself this way the results are like a strong muscle. That kind of love is not going to be on the next romance comedy movie screen, but it will be on the recipient’s heart forever. Even if they don’t recognize it. Most importantly, you will have done what God asked of you, and brought glory to Him.
You won’t be that resounding gong or clanging cymbal, but a heart that is filled with love for God and neighbor.
“Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor in the sight of God and man.” (Proverbs 3:3-4)