Let God’s Word challenge what you think you know about love.
If I’m honest, I glossed over that list without giving it a second thought. There’s nothing flashy there. Nothing that makes my heart race. No buzz words or descriptions worthy of a Pinterest picture. It might as well read:
But perhaps you recognize that first list from somewhere. I bet you’ve already figured out that it’s a description of something that most of us see as the polar opposite of nothing special. A word that is guaranteed to make your eyes light up and your pulse race—love.
The Bible gives us a clear description of love in 1 Corinthians 13:4–7. Take your time as you read it. Wrestle with the familiar. Let God’s Word challenge what you think you know about love.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
I don’t know about you, but I need frequent reminders about what true love really is. Because if I was writing a description of love, it would sound a lot more like this . . .
Love is everything. It’s butterflies in my stomach. It’s finding someone who I can’t live without and knowing that he can’t live without me either. Love is exciting. It’s endless romantic dates punctuated by frequent trips to Bali and Paris. Love feels good, always. It’s an overdose of warm fuzzies. Love makes me feel pretty. Love comes with endless kisses and hugs. Love never hurts. It never takes effort. It never disappoints.
Some of those things are part of the experience of loving and being loved by others, but they are not love. Warm fuzzies and exciting moments may be an occasional byproduct of love, but they are not love itself. I am prone to chase the feeling love gives me instead of true love. (You, too?) That wreaks havoc on my relationships with God and others. It forces my heart to continuously break. It keeps me from loving others well.
My choice is this: Either I will continue to try to grab the version of love I see in the movies, or I will be satisfied with the description of love that God offers in His Word. Though painful, I am forcing myself to choose the latter. Here’s what that really looks like in three areas of my life.
I Will Worry More About Being A Good Friend and Less About Having Good Friends
I like to think I’m a low-maintenance friend. I only require:
- Constant availability
- Lots of long talks about my feelings
- Weekly sushi dates
- Monthly pedicures
- No drama
- Effortless connection
- Lots of strokes to my ego
Again, I want the warm fuzzies. I want feel-good friendship. I want the point of my friendships to be, well . . . me.
But then I have to take a hard look back at God’s definition of love, and I find that true friendship love is rooted in mutual respect. Yes, my friends should have my back, but I also need to have theirs. When the road gets rocky, we work through it and forgive instead of parting ways. Friendship that doesn’t look like consistently caring for each other isn’t rooted in love.
I Will Celebrate Romantic Love That Requires Much of Me and Is Not All About Me
I’ve been married a long time, and I still have this thought at least once a week . . .
Why doesn’t he send me flowers?
I want my husband to think about me 24/7. I want him to tell me I am beautiful every hour on the hour. I want him to whisk me away on romantic dates. Deep down in his bones, I want him to feel that cheesy movie line about me . . .
“You complete me.”
But none of that business makes God’s list of what love is.
My husband is patient and kind. He is not envious or boastful. He isn’t rude. He doesn’t insist on his own way. He is not irritable or resentful. He doesn’t want to hurt me. He bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
In other words, he loves me.
It’s not always flashy, but it is love. The question I have to ask myself is, will I let it be enough or will I constantly chase after something that feels more significant? In your own love life, will you be satisfied with true, lasting love, or will you keep looking for something more exciting?
I Will Measure God’s Love by the Cross, Not My Fickle Feelings
I worry almost constantly that God will change His mind about me. I convince myself that I’ve committed one sin too many for Him to continue to love me. I get anxious if I haven’t had that feeling for awhile—you know the one you get during a great worship service or a quiet prayer time where you just know that you know that you know that He loves you?
But God’s love for me isn’t based on His moods. (Praise Jesus!) He doesn’t have to prove His love over and over by making me feel good. He proved it once and for all by going to the cross for me. When I stop chasing an experience with God, I am free to enjoy the presence of God.
If you feel like you just can’t live without that loving feeling, don’t sweat. God’s love for us is more extravagant than we can ever imagine. His love isn’t drudgery. He wants to fill our hearts to overflowing. His love for us is so much better than the Hallmark card version we try to make it.
I Wanna Know What Love Is
Go back, and re-read God’s definition of true love from 1 Corinthians 13:4–7.
How would you define love differently?
In what areas of your life are you looking for a different definition of love?
What impact does that have on your relationship with God and others?