We all yearn to be loved. Every year we have a holiday to accentuate how loved, or unloved, we are feeling. That lovely day is called Valentine’s Day. It is a well-loved tradition for many and a boycotted nightmare for others. Some feel that because it started out as a pagan holiday, we as Christians should not celebrate it. You can find thousands of messages on social media calling for an end to Valentine’s Day. One message I came across read, “Happy unimaginative consumerist-oriented and entirely arbitrary manipulative and shallow interpretation of romance day.” Wow. Those are some strong feelings for such a day that is supposed to celebrate love. Love. Love is one of the most over-used and misunderstood words in the dictionary. There is no wonder why when we go to the dictionary for the meaning. Our Webster defines it as, “An intense feeling of deep affection.” If we are all yearning to feel an intense feeling of deep affection, our human counter parts are bound to let us down! They are set up for failure from the get-go!
After my father died, I was going through some of his things and came across a poem scribbled out in his shaky handwriting. It simply read:
One life is not enough. Not enough time.
Each sunset bothers me. Another day gone.
I want to be young again.
Something passed me by (or maybe I passed it by)
Life’s not so bad, just too short.
By the time you see how you should’ve lived your life, it’s gone.
When I think of life, I wish I had lived it.
When I think of love, I wish I had found it.
This breaks my heart. My father did not feel that he had found that “intense feeling of deep affection.” Oh, if he could only have known the real meaning of the word LOVE. If we all could grasp the true meaning of the word, there would be no reason to feel so let down at the end of life, as my father did, or to feel let down by the celebration of a romantic holiday or let down by others in our lives.
Let’s define the true meaning of LOVE. As you read this, please try not to be taken back to a time when you were standing in an ugly bridesmaid dress listening to a gal in a peach-colored dress suit quoting these words. Open your heart and mind and hear them fresh and new:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Love is not that excited feeling you get. It is not the warm-fuzzies. It is not lust, it is not romance. It is not “feeling intense deep affection” for someone. It is NOT a feeling.
True love is treating your husband with kindness even when you want to rip his head off! Perhaps today he made you “feel” furious or worse yet – unloved. You make the CHOICE to treat him kindly. You serve him and speak kind words to him anyway. Perhaps yesterday a friend of yours did not include you in on lunch plans with the ladies in your neighborhood. You CHOOSE to not become easily angered. You hope that there is a reason you might be unaware of. You do not allow pride or envy to take over, though you “feel” hurt. You CHOOSE to bear all things. You continue to treat others kindly. The love our amazing heavenly Father taught us about is an ACTION, not a feeling. It is making a choice to act out the above words even when we do not feel like doing so.
Be patient. Choose to be kind. Bear all things. Do not envy. Choose not to be prideful. Choose to hope and choose to endure. That is what true love is. True love is God. We can never fully act out all of these words because we are sinful humans. We live in a fallen world. However, we can choose to seek God. We can choose to accept the grace and love of Jesus Christ, freely given to us all. We can ask the Holy Spirit to guide us and give us the strength to ACT in a loving way, even when we do not FEEL like doing so.
So, today, make a choice to treat everyone in your life with God’s definition of love, allowing His Spirit to reign in you, giving you the help you need to live it out.
In closing I love this quote by Tozer and want to share it with you. It gives an awesome picture of what it looks like to strive for God’s amazing LOVE.
“Yet if we would know God and for other’s sake tell what we know, we must try to speak of his love. All Christians have tried but none has ever done it very well. I can no more do justice to that awesome and wonder-filled theme than a child can grasp a star. Still, by reaching toward the star the child may call attention to it and even indicate the direction one must look to see it. So as I stretch my heart toward the high shining love of God someone who has not before known about it may be encouraged to look up and have hope.”