Thursday, February 14, 2013

True Love

Happy Valentine's Day! On this day when the word,  "love," is tossed around and revered more than any other day of the year, it has never before become so clear to me that we as a society have totally lost the real meaning of love.  Just turning on the T.V. for even fifteen minutes will prove that to you.  You can quickly hear people ranting about "their rights," see people misconstruing sex for love, and repeatedly witness people exhibiting a total disregard for the feelings of others.  That said, I thought it might be nice to write a short blog about what God's Word says that true "love" is. 

Valentine's Day is a brutal day for those who are lonely or have suffered betrayals and lost loves.  Many are grieving permanent losses of loved ones who have departed this earth before them. On this day of "hearts," mine goes out to anyone out there who has recently endured such a loss or betrayal.  I have personally gone through jealous betrayals by "friends" and permanent losses of true friends who have gone on to be with the Lord ahead of me.  But the "Good News" is (double meaning intended), Jesus Christ is the best example of true love and friendship that we will ever have--and He is accessible to you right now and every moment of the day.   In fact, He longs to be your Valentine and true love.  His entire life's purpose and mission was to come to earth to prove His love and devotion for you.  He died on a cross in your place to give you a chance to recognize what real love is, and to be saved from your own sins.  That is true love.  That is the "Good News."  In John 3:16, which is probably the most famous and frequently quoted passage in all of Scripture, it is stated, "For God SO LOVED the WORLD, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."  What an amazing Valentine's Day love letter to receive!  So if you're out there and someone has lashed out at you, betrayed you for selfish motives, or you have suffered an even greater loss than that in the permanent loss of an irreplaceable loved one, take heart!  Jesus is a steadfast friend--and He knows the real meaning of love and sticks to it.

So what does God's Word say that, "love," really is?  Following this blog are my favorite passages on love.  In summation, love is a choice--not a feeling.  Love is about showing mercy and compassion to others, not expecting your every need and whim to be met in return with harsh demands attached.  Love is about endurance, commitment, and faithfulness.  It is about truly caring more for others than you do yourself.  It is about honestly supporting others above your own desires, and sharing in their joys AND sorrows.  It is about giving others space to live, change, and grow.  It is about giving and taking--not always taking.  It is about being thankful when God blesses others, instead of jealous that He didn't give you the same blessings. It is about affirming and encouraging others, not competing and tearing down them down.  It is about covering over the sins of others, instead of highlighting them and conveniently ignoring your own.  Real love stands the test of time.  It doesn't change like shifting sand and it isn't altered by geographical distance or personal hardship.  Today more than ever, I count my blessings and realize with crystal clarity those whom God has placed in my life as true loves and true friends.  Those who have been there through thick and thin.  Those who have never wavered in honestly supporting and loving me with no ulterior motives or changing attitudes. Those who are genuinely sad when I'm sad, and truly happy when I'm happy.  Those who don't purposefully push my buttons in passive-aggressive spite and selfish gain, but instead lift me up just by their presence.  Those who sincerely praise God and celebrate with me when I succeed, but still encourage and believe in me when I fail.  You know who you are, and today I lift up a sincere word of praise for all the true Valentines in my life.  I am richly blessed. 

True "love" is...

1 Corinthians 13, "If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.  Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."

1 Peter 4:8, "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins."

Proverbs 17:17, "A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity."

Proverbs 10:12, "Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses." 

Ephesians 4:2-3, "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace."

1 Peter 1:22, "Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart."

1 John 4:7, "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God."