Today is Valentine’s Day, when we focus on the ones we love and how to express our love. So what is love?
We may not have all the answers, but I will share a few thoughts that came to me regarding love, especially about what love should mean for those of us who call ourselves Christians.
From reading the Bible we know that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.”
Another thing the Bible tells us is that we will know love when we lay our lives down for our brethren. 1 John 4:8 reads, “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” The scriptures also say that “God is Love.”
Well-meaning Christians “do” a lot for God—but that is no indication of their love for God, or others. Loving and caring go beyond the call of “doing things.”
It means denying ourselves in seeking to meet the need of the other; sacrificing our interests and selfish motivation to serve others; putting aside our pride and reaching out to someone who needs a show of love.
Christ did not have to die on the cross. He had ample proof in the language of legalism to support His claim of being a loving person. He had healed, fed, ministered and had even raised some from the dead. But that was not enough. He “did” much, which would have been enough for Him to justify and say that He was a “good” person who served others. But His love went beyond the call to heal, feed, disciple and raise the dead.
His love was manifest in that He gave up His life to save us, because that is what mankind needed—mankind that did not appreciate Him, mankind that spat on Him and nailed Him to the cross.
We expect love from others, but do we make the effort to love others despite how they treat us, those whom we say we love and care for? Or does pride keep us from embracing them when we feel they have wronged us? Or does “busy-ness” with our own selfish desires keep us from being blind to the hurting spirit of the one we profess to love and care for?
Are we really too busy to notice, or is our “busy-ness” a handy excuse, a cop-out for not reaching out to someone who may be hurting, simply because we want to sort of get even? Before we tell someone that we love them, or care for them, let us truly search our hearts and make sure we honestly do.
There is plenty of “conditional love” floating around—a legalistic sort of love, which subtly demands it all in return at least in same measure if not more. That is not love. A love that freely gives, with no hesitation, that freely works, serves and submits, without a sense of resentment or expectation of gratitude—a love that seeks only to give—that is love.
If we claim to be followers of Christ, such an attitude of unconditional love would be very clear, because it is unmistakably remarkable.
The world does not know such love. It truly comes only when we encounter the person of Christ, and have a relationship with Him, through which we are transformed and given hearts filled with His brand of love and it can be clearly seen. Those who receive such love, cannot deny its existence and are themselves then transformed by it.
A heart filled with such love CANNOT be acquired by our “doing things” to show that we love. The fact that we bring up our “loving acts” as proof of our love, is what negates the presence of true love. It then becomes a legalistic justification, to “prove” we love. True love never needs to be proved—it is felt, and its existence in someone’s heart cannot be denied, because it is a divine connection through God, who is Love.