What does it mean to really love?

What comes to your mind when you hear the word “love?” Maybe a song, a movie, a person, the list can go on and on. If you look up the word “love” you’ll find 3 nouns, 2 verbs, and multiple definitions. All for this one word. I think this makes it evident how many ideas of love we have in this culture. As a Christian we should see love as God sees love. The Lord has really been laying on my heart over the past month for me to really grasp what it means to love. If you know me I’m a very loving person, or at least I thought so, but God has definitely revealed to me that I was missing what love is in full. Love has come up in so many sermons I’ve heard lately. It flows through social media. It is in movies. It is on our campuses. It is all around us. This word, love. Not only is it around us but is often misinturpreted. But what does the bible tell us about love? I’m not necessarily talking about love in the sense of dating and marriage. I’m leaning more towards how we as Christians should display love to everyone, which includes your significant other and spouse. While reading this blog think beyond how to love a significant other and focus in on how to love people in general.

We all know the passage of scripture 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. It is quoted constantly. “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 records of wrong. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” Sound familiar? Good, but we’re going to take it deeper. When reading scripture we have to digest what we are reading. We have to apply it. If we as Christians want to be an example of love to the world, we should posses the same qualities as love. This passage is literally telling us what love is. So, lets make this personal. I am patient, I am kind. I do not envy, I do not boast, I am not proud. I do not dishonor others, I am not self seeking, I am not easily angered, I keep no record of wrong. I do no delight in evil but I rejoice with truth. I always protect, I always trust, I always hope, I always persevere. How many of these qualities are true in your life? How many of them are not? There are so many places in my life where I could be more patient. I can name a few people I’ve been keeping records of wrong. I could be more trusting and hopeful. I think all of us have at least one of these qualities we could be more of. It is much easier to do what we aren’t supposed to if we don’t really have a hold on what we are supposed to do. Now that we have seen the qualities of love we are to have, we can work towards becoming them. We can pray for God to help us with the qualities we are lacking and strengthen the ones we already have. Love is a crucial part of being a Christian and so it is so important for us to be walking definitions of love. Not just by any definition of love, but God’s definition of love. 

I want to switch gears to another passage that lays out for us what love is in action. Romans 12:9-18 “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Once again, it is telling us exactly how we are supposed to love. Check your heart. Ask yourself these questions: Is my love sincere? Do I hate what is evil and cling to what is good? What does that look like? Am devoted to the people around me in love? What does that look like? Am I honoring others above myself? Am I joyful in hope? What does that look like, practically? Am patient in affliction? What does that look like, practically? Am faithful in prayer? Do I share with people who are in need? Do practice hospitality? Do bless those who persecute me? Or do I curse them? Do rejoice with those who rejoice? Do mourn with those who mourn? Am I proud? Do associate myself with people of low position? Am conceited? Do repay evil for evil? Am living at peace with everyone? These are hard questions to answer but I believe to get away from the problem of misleading ideas of what it means to love we have to answer them. And we have to answer them honestly. Why am I asking “what does it look like?” Why is it important? Because not only do we have to answer them but really think about what these things look like in our lives. We have to get an understanding of what these words mean and what they are asking of us or else we are just reading the Bible like it’s a textbook for retaining the information. We are called for so much more than to retain the information. We are called to live out what the words say. Before we can do that, we have to understand what they mean and what they look like in a practical sense. In order to do this, sometimes we have to ask the hard questions.

As Christians we are called to love. So often I think we skip past that and think that we know what that means, to love. We have our own idea of what God means when He tells us to love, when it is right in front of us, and we miss it. It is such an important thing for us to grasp. We are called to love the Lord and to love people. And this so so so important. We can’t miss that. 1 Corinthians 13:3 says, “…but do not have love, I gain nothing.” NOTHING. Guys, if we don’t have love we are missing it.

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