I ventured into a store on the Saturday before Valentine’s Day and I was overrun by people buying flowers, candy, cards and other items to show their love.
There’s nothing wrong with buying gifts. I send my wife a card and get candy knowing she’ll share it with me. But candy and flowers are not the true measure of real love.
Real love is not an emotion but a commitment. During pre-marital counseling with young couples I ask, “Why do you want to get married?” The usual answer is, “Because I love him/her.” And I respond, “That’s not the right answer.” Few if any couples know love on their marriage day. You don’t fall in love; you grow in love. Love is the by-product of the commitment a couple makes to God and each other on their wedding day. You also don’t fall out of love.
You choose to love. You choose to cease loving.
Our world has developed a misrepresentation of love. Love in today’s culture is more physical, likes and having common interests. It is conditional. It rises and falls like the ocean tides.
The Bible tells us that we know or experience love we first experience the love of God. (I John 4:19 “We love because He first loved us.”) God is not only the giver of true love, but God is the essence of true love. God is love. His love is unconditional and everlasting. God cannot love you more than He does right now and He will not love you less.
God’s love is not just for those who love Him. His love is for those who have accepted His word and son. Romans 5:8 says, “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
In John 13, Jesus said, “He loved His own who were in the world; He loved them the most He possibly could.” During that time with the disciples at the Last Supper, Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, you also love one another. By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another.” And He reiterated and added in 15:12-13 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”
John got the point and wrote in his first epistle: “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren … My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.” (3:16,18)
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” (4:7-11)
God’s love is not just a word, flowers or candy. It is sacrificial and it is active. His love was to give His only son to die for our sins to bring us back to Himself. Love, real love, is always other-centered and it always seeks the best for the one loved.
“Love is patient and king; love is not jealous; love does not boast and is not arrogant or rude and does not insist on its own way; love is not irritable or resentful; love does not rejoice in wrongdoing but does rejoice in the truth; love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” (I Corinthians 13)
The greatest thing we can do for another is to actively show the love of Christ. That can change things for the better. “So now faith, hope and love abide, but the greatest of the three is love.” (I Corinthians 13:13)