Valentine's Day--what a perfect day to talk about love. When you hear the word "love", what comes to mind? Is it some picture of fuzzy romance? Yet the truest love isn't a fuzzy romantic kind.
1 Corinthians 13 is often thought of as the love chapter, and it is a really amazing picture of love, but my favorite passage about love in the Bible would probably be 1 John 4:7-21. In both verses 8 and 16 it says, "God is love". It doesn't state, "God loves" or "God is loving" but that God is love. When you think about that it can really blow one's mind away. It is impossible for God to go against what He is and so it is impossible for God to stop loving me... the wretched sinner that I am. "For God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."~Romans 5:8 (my favorite Bible verse).
I could talk on and on about God's wonderful love, but I now want to look at how that affects our own love. In verse 19, John says, "We love because He first loved us." Our first love is to God which we give with our entire heart, soul, mind, and strength. Love to God is one that calls for surrendering everything to Him. Even our own life. Whenever I hear a martyr story I'm always astounded by the commitment that person showed to God. Then the question usually passes through my head, "Do I have that much love for God? What would I do if I were in their shoes?"
From a love for God flows a love for others. Verses 20 and 21 state, "If anyone says, 'I love God,' yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And He has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother." That may seem harsh to some, but those words ring as true as the fact that I'm breathing. The longest lasting love for others is a love that comes from the outpouring of a heart filled to the brim with a love for God. That's the only kind of love that comes close to the 1 Corinthians 13 ideal.
No, I'm not anywhere near that point and I won't be for a long time yet, but I've seen it in other people's lives. Sometimes when I'm at the top of a spiritual mountain I feel like I've reached it, but then I go downhill again. It's as if my love is like a flower in the winter... sometimes blooming strong and sometimes closed up for long periods of time.
1 Cor. 13 says, "Love never fails." The only way to find out if something will fail or not is to test it. I guess that's where trials come into the picture. This past summer my family experienced trials that tested love and trust unlike any I have ever experienced before. Paul called it "The Summer of Betrayal". Four different instances that shook our lives and I doubt the way we look at others will ever be the same. Two of them were at the expense of someone's life. Could we still love those who had betrayed everything we had believed about them? Could we still trust that God had everything under control and that He knew what He was doing?
I believe that through every instance God brought everyone in my family closer to Him and to each other. We had to trust that "All things work together to them that love God and who are called according to His purpose." ~Romans 8:28. We were (and are) still working on the loving Him part, but we know that we must rely on Him as our refuge and strength, and we can believe His promises that He would encircle those affected with His all sufficient love.
Love. So are you still thinking about the fuzzy romance? Love is a picture of a Father turning His back on His only Son. Love is a picture of a Man hanging from a cross between two murderers. Love is what God the Father sent His Son to do for us. That is real love...