For the Love of… LOVE
Like most people, I use the word “love” quite freely. In the same breath I use to tell my wife that I love her, I also profess my love for fried chicken. Of course, if you know me well, you know that my love for fried chicken knows no bounds, so it’s relatively high praise for my wife. You’re welcome Jaclyn!
But in all seriousness, we banter around the word ‘love’ when we talk about people, food, movies, shows, music, vacation spots, clothes, sports, cars—you name it, we “LOVE” it. In fact, McDonald’s theme is “I’m love’n it.” It kind puts a damper on the meaning of “love” when we use it interchangeably for deep emotions, like how we love our spouses and kids, with the more superficial emotions like we feel for our favorite foods.
But what is love? We measure love in human standards. We talk about love in transitory terms like “passionate love, young love, and first loves.” All these types of love change or end, and so we have a hard time understanding the everlasting, eternal, and unconditional love of God. Our “love” often has an expiration date, and we can’t comprehend a Love that escapes all bounds of time and place.
Unlike our first loves, God holds on tightly to us, even when the going gets tough, and loves us at our very best and our lowest worst. This true LOVE is his greatest gift to us, and a gift that he commands us to ‘pay forward.’ In short, God commands us to love.
So, how do we do this? The Bible tells us that love suffers long, is kind, does not envy, does not parade itself, is not puffed up, does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil, does not rejoice in iniquity, rejoices in the truth, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things and never fails.
Wow! That’s a long laundry list of how we are supposed to love each other, yet it’s how God loves us. It’s also the only way we can help others come to God. We cannot strong-arm the unbeliever. We cannot bully them into belief. We can only love them toward God. If we genuinely exhibit our faith, we need to do it with a love that rejoices in truth and hope.
The fruit of the spirit is the tool that God gives to us to witness to others. It is no mistake or coincidence that ‘Love’ is the first fruit of the spirit because it’s the only way to break the ice and form a long-lasting relationship with each other and God. We could all use a little more love in our lives, and we could certainly work on delivering a lot more love to each other.
THE LORD APPEARED TO US IN THE PAST, SAYING: “I HAVE LOVED YOU WITH AN EVERLASTING LOVE; I HAVE DRAWN YOU WITH UNFAILING KINDNESS.