That FOUR LETTER word

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13).

Love…

We say it, we think we know it, we give it, and we hope to experience it as we go about our day to day life.

Love…

That four letter word that seems to be overused, and often misunderstood. I too at a point in my life had to stop, think, look around, and ask myself (in the famous words of The Foreigners & Haddaway)  “I want to know what love is” & “What is love?…”

I therefore had to take the time to find out what love was (and still is) really about. I remember that I got to a point where I stopped saying “I love you”, because I honestly did not even understand what that meant anymore. I had heard of love, I had read of love, I thought I had felt love, but WHAT IS LOVE?

The Holy Spirit therefore took me on a journey. We didn’t actually travel to a specific destination, but instead, He began to open my eyes to pay attention to the things around me that explained and exemplified love. First and foremost, He helped me to better understand God. God = Love. What do I mean by that? These bible verses helped me to come to the realization of why knowing that God is love is the foundation of understanding love.

Romans 5:8 says, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Then 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a further explains what love is. What love looks like, feels like, is like. “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” Now, it is easy to substitute love with God in that passage, as this is painting a picture of who God is, and how He desires for us to relate with each other. Let’s try that for a moment and see how that reads…God is patient and kind. God is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. He does not demand his own way. He is not irritable, and He keeps no record of being wronged. He does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. God never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Love is found first and foremost in God, because God is love. Therefore, to truly understand love, I have to understand God.

Love is not a feeling as many people like to characterize it.

Secondly, Love is a choice. I choose daily, I choose constantly and consistently to love. I choose what I love, who I love, how I love. I consciously make a choice as to what and who I will devote my time, energy, and emotions to, and I choose how I will do so. Love is a choice made daily and consciously. It is not a feeling that descends upon and stays there to tether you to another person or another thing forever. Like, liking, or being liked, is a feeling. I do not always choose what I will like, but I can and do always choose what I love. This is why it is hard for some people to love others, and to love themselves. They have not yet made the choice to do so, but are instead waiting for a feeling, an aha moment, a rush of some sort that will change how they feel  – which will never come. Love is a choice that each and every single person must make. Love is a choice that we must choose, and take the time to learn, in order to truly and fully experience what it is.

Because love is a choice, we have been commanded to LOVE one another.

Luke 10:27 reminds us of the two greatest commandments. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind. And, Love your neighbor as yourself”.  We are commanded this because, we can choose to love each other despite our differences, opinions, and ideals. We may not always LIKE each other, but we can always choose to love one another, just as God loves us. The person whom you need to show love to, may be the most irritating person to ever cross your path. Yet, loving them should still be the first choice you always make, instead of focusing on liking them.

This is profound because God loves us first and then chose to show us the level of His love for us by choosing us even before we chose Him. He gave of Himself; He gave His son freely to die for us, even when we had nothing to offer (and still don’t). He selflessly loves us, choosing each and every moment to do all that He does for us, not for selfish or personal gains but just out of His love. He loves us unconditionally. Therefore, He commands that since He has given to us of His love in every way possible, that we too should love others without condition – regardless of how we may feel about them. We too should pour out of the love He is pouring into us, unto others (everyone).

If Love were mere feelings alone, we as human beings are very undeserving of God’s love.

More times than not, our actions, opinions, thoughts, desires are against God’s Spirit, often doing things that we know can make God upset with us. Yet, out of His infinite grace and mercy (thank God for Jesus), He still chooses to love us, so that we have the opportunity to come to Him, to know Him, to build a relationship with Him. It is then from this understanding, from this connection, from this relationship, that we are able to lavish love on others, choosing to love them  as God Himself loves us.

What is love? God is love. Love is an action that requires a decision and commitment. Love is choosing, regardless of the situation, to be patient, kind, not to be jealous, boastful, proud or rude. Love is choosing not to demand your own way, not to be irritable, not to keep any record of wrong, but to rejoice in the truth. Love is never giving up (even if you have to crawl to the finish line, or you have to cheer someone on from afar), never losing faith (in yourself and others), and always being hopeful. Love is choosing each and every day to endure through every circumstance, even the circumstances with the people that you do not like, or the circumstance with the areas of your life that you do not like. Choosing to endure through it anyway because, “…as we live in God, our love grows more perfect…such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear…” (1 John 4:17-18).

LOVE is a four letter word that best expresses our FREEDOM to choose. Choose to love today.

References:

Bible Hub. Online Bible Study Suite, 2004-2016, biblehub.com.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Crossway Bibles, 2001.

 

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