Love Is a Verb

love is a verb

Love.  We all want it and can’t live without it.  We seek it, idolize it, and make it our life’s goal.  But do we know what we’re really looking for?  Is that object we call “love” really what we’re expecting?

Love is depicted in many ways in the world.  We see movies, novels, and dating relationships describing love as an emotional tie to another person.  We’re given the idea that love is found only on Valentine’s Day in the form of a box of chocolates.  We’re convinced that love is found in the physical attraction to someone through a kiss or an embrace.  Worst of all, lust is portrayed as synonymous to love, despite all its harmful effects.  Out of all the choices, which one is truly “love”?

God, of course, gives the most accurate description of love:

Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. John 15:13

Here is a definition of love most of our culture knows nothing about!  We see very little giving, much less dying for others.   But according to the God of the universe, the greatest form of love is giving up one’s life.

For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. Romans 5:7

The greatest example of this, of course, is Jesus.  He dared! People all over the world have laid down their life for someone or something, but never for so great a cause.  Others have laid down their lives for their friends, but rarely for their enemies.  In contrast, Jesus did this for people in the present and people in the future, regardless of their love for Him.  He allowed Himself to be given.

For God so love the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16

Our human instinct is to fulfill its cravings at the expense of everyone else, with no pain toward ourselves.  Jesus, however, commanded us to love our neighbor – friend or foe – as ourselves (Mark 12:31).  When we love “us,” do we take advantage of ourselves?  Do we take from ourselves more readily than we give?  Do we deprive ourselves of our daily needs?  They answer is clearly “no”, yet we often do exactly that to others, not realizing that we’re stepping out of the boundaries of love.  We forget God’s command to do unto others as we would have them do to us (Luke 6:31).

It’s easy to give a gift or assist someone we like.  We feel more inclined to show love to someone who loves us in return.  But what about the times someone isn’t able to return the favor, or chooses not to?  That’s when we are called to be the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37).

A man was beaten, robbed, and left for dead on the side of the road.  Shamefully, two devoted Jews passed by without offering aid.  They were followed by a Gentile, focused on a destination of his own.  He stumbled across that horrific sight crying out to him for help.  He hesitated. Time was ticking away.  He was human like the rest of us, so I could imagine the debate that went on in his head: “You’ll be late for your meeting!  If you’re late, they’ll never promote you to that new position!  Let someone else come and help him.”  Thankfully, he didn’t give in to the argument.  He stepped aside and assisted the man, inconveniencing himself and his pocketbook.

This Samaritan was a “good” Samaritan.  But what separates a person from the just “good” and the “loving” is the action taken to back up the goodness.  A “good” man has a few compassionate thoughts fly through his head, yet still continues on because he must keep his schedule.  A “good and loving” person will go beyond inward goodness; he will put aside his desires and help the person less fortunate. Greater still is when he pays the extra bit to keep the other person going, even after he must leave. That is love.

Just the same, negative feelings often arise when our flesh wishes to do anything other than show love.  It may be that it’s going to take an uncomfortable amount of effort to show it.  We might have to swallow our pride and humble ourselves in front of someone we’ve wronged.  Someone who has hated us might be a candidate for love, but our flesh may cry for justice rather than mercy.  Whatever the situation, we cannot rely on our senses.  The greatest test of love is how we act when our feelings don’t line up with our actions.  It’s an act of faith that says, “I will do this out of a tender heart toward God, regardless of the way I feel.”

An emotion-led relationship is often controlled by hormones and has nothing to do with commitment.  The feelings change the moment someone does something we don’t like. The fuzzy feelings of getting a gift and a special night out eventually fade.  Physical touch and sexual “love” is temporary and subject to a person’s presence.  Lust does nothing but take out of selfishness.  The only reliable and authentic form of true love is found in only one place – in the nature of the Father.  Apart from Him, we flounder in our own strength to accurately show and receive love.  When we don’t know Him, we don’t know love, for He is love.

A minister once said that “love is a verb.”  It’s an action, not a feeling.  It’s a decision, not a fleeting thought.  Thankfully, Jesus understood this.  He acted on His love to the point of torture.  This may never be demanded of us; but like the Good Samaritan, we still have opportunities every day to put down our flesh and its desire to take rather than give.   We may have to reprogram our minds to think without selfishness interfering with our actions.  We may have to start with the small actions of love in order to attain to the big actions.  The opportunities are there if we’ll keep our eyes on the greatest Example God gave us – Jesus, love in the flesh.

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. I John 4:7, 8

.Photo courtesy of Google Images

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Christ Is Enough

We live in a culture of romance. So much romance that it seems our lives are incomplete without it. But if we are Christians, we are complete, with or without a boyfriend or girlfriend, husband or wife.  He is enough, more than enough, because He alone can fulfill us. He has taken care of the most important part of our lives. Our sins have been forgiven, our eternity set in heaven, and our value determined by Him alone. No person or relationship can fulfill all that. Though God may bless us with a spouse, Christ is ultimately enough.

None But You – Hillsong

No other person should receive our greatest desire above Jesus.  He’s the lover of our soul, our most intimate relationship.  Should someone else try to distract our devotion, our cry should be, “There is no one else for me, none but Jesus.”
In the quiet, in the stillness
I know that you are God
In the secret of your presence
I know there I am restored
When you call I won’t refuse
Each new day, again I’ll choose

There is no one else for me
None but Jesus
Crucified to set me free
Now I live to bring Him praise

In the chaos, in confusion
I know you’re sovereign still
In the moment of my weakness
You give me grace to do your will
When you call I won’t delay
This my song through all my days

There is no one else for me
None but Jesus
Crucified to set me free
Now I live to bring Him praise

I am yours and you are mine…

All my delight is in you Lord
All of my hope
All of my strength
All my delight is in you Lord
Forevermore

Song by Brooke Ligertwood/Hillsong

Going Steady – Guest Post

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After Christmas, I got the sudden urge to reorganize places in my house.  This included my shelf of notebook binders, filled with sermon notes, Scripture lists, and discipleship helps.  One notebook was filled with chapels from the Christian School I attended in Canada.  One of the chapel notes was from Paula Hernando, the secretary of the school (you can read her relationship testimony in the previous post, titled “Steady as You Wait”). The following article, “Going Steady,” is Paula’s notes with my thoughts in italics.  Make the choice to go steady!

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Most of the time, we use the term “going steady” as related to dating.  But have we ever considered what it would mean if we applied it to our relationship with Jesus? 

There are several words that follow along the thought of “steady.” Let’s look at a few of them:

“Steadfast” means “stable and steady.” “Stable” means “not likely to give way; enduring; not wavering in purpose; firmly established; mentally sound; resistant to physical and chemical change.” “Steady” means “constant; free from agitation; free from variation, interruption; dependable.”

I think we would all agree that “steadfast,” or “steady,” describes the kind of relationship we would want with anyone.  We don’t appreciate relationships that are fickle, every day different than the day before. We want commitment.

“Going steady” also denotes exclusiveness: we’re committed to one person.  It’s no different with Jesus.  He especially deserves steadfastness and steadiness.  He also requires it. Our walk with Him must be exclusive.

You shall have no other gods before me. (Exodus 20:3)

But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. (James 1:6-8)

…by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. (2 Corinthians 15:2)

Three ways to maintain steadiness:

  1. Steady seeking.

“Search” in the Greek means “following in close pursuit of a desired object.” If we are in a healthy relationship with someone, we consistently seek them.  We seek to know where they are so we can be with them.  We seek their interests, likes and dislikes, so we can get to know them better.  It should be the same with our relationship with Jesus. We are to consistently seek after His person and His desires.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.  I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring back your from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive. (Jeremiah 29:11-14)

 2. Steady in knowing.

Wisdom comes from God and keeps us stable. It enables us to make right decisions, move forward confidently, and be successful in all we do.  It guides our lives to success instead of defeat.  However, if we neglect knowing His wisdom, we will flounder.  We will strive in our own understanding to do what we think is correct, but never successfully achieve God’s will for our lives.

 Wisdom and knowledge will be the stability of your times, and the strength of salvation;
The fear of the Lord is His treasure. (Isaiah 33:6)

Those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flattery; but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits. (Daniel 11:32)

  1. Steady in decision.

Regardless of what happens, there should be a conviction that we’ll be as on fire for God as we are now.  Decisions can take us away for where we want to be if they’re made wrong. Little decisions should equal big decisions for God.

Only your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel . . . (Philippians 1:27)

You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked . . . (2 Peter 3:17)

What does “going steady” with Jesus mean to us?  What would we change if we were to treat our relationship with Him with the same intensity that we treat our boyfriend?  Would we memorize His number so we can consistently communicate?  Would we read His letters to us, memorizing every Word?  Would we be unwavering in our commitment?  I pray we all choose to “go steady,” though we may be surrounded with a world of unsteadiness.

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Paula Hernando is a fellow blogger and published author.  You can read more about her and her book at http://www.emptyhandstoopenarms.com.

 

Heart Like You by Love and the Outcome

If God were to take a microscope to our hearts, what would He find?  A heart engrossed in the desire for a relationship?  A heart craving romance?  Or would He find a heart like His, a heart that beats for His glory and is dedicated to His cause?  That’s the kind of heart He’s looking for.  That’s the kind of heart that is fulfilled with His perfect will . . . the perfect man and the perfect timing ordained by Him.