Hello Church Devotion Sept. 12, 2013

L is for Love

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, 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… And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, 13 NIV 84

When you hear the word love, what comes to mind? How do you describe love? Do you get that warm and fuzzy feeling? Maybe you think of a specific person who you love or who loves you. Maybe you describe a situation in which you felt appreciated and loved. Whatever immediately comes to mind when you first hear the word love is sure to be different than what others think of. Love and how we describe love is something that is so personal that we have somehow taken love and made it unique to each of us. It is rooted in our personal experiences and emotions. Yet, for many of us it leaves us desiring more and always wondering if we are truly loved.

I mean, if our view of love is connected with our experience and our emotions then it is certain to be a rocky, roller coaster of a ride to experience love. It doesn’t take looking very hard to see that this idea of love is prevalent and practiced by many, if not most in our society. We see breakups and divorce, fights and quarrels and so many things that people blame on love. But if we are honest, it isn’t love that is the problem. Our problem is truly the understanding of love that we have accepted and the way we misuse that type of love to define things.

Try to take an objective glance for a moment at the way society, our friends and family talk about love. What definition or understanding would you come away with? My guess is that you would come away thinking that love was situational. It depends on the circumstance and who we are with as to whether we love or feel love. To go even deeper, love is conditional and warranted only when things are going the way we want them to. You may even say that love is just an emotion that comes and goes like the wind. These are all reasonable thoughts that you could interpret from the way love is talked about in our society and world. It is in this line of thinking and these understandings that leave us no doubt as to why love has become so misunderstood and broken. We have lost the meaning of what love really is.

In 1 Corinthians 13 (listed above), a passage in which many of us have heard at many weddings, we get a good picture of what love is. It is made very clear that love is not just a feeling but rather a selfless set of deeds that a person strives to live by. Yes, love can be connected to our emotions but love is so much bigger than just an emotion, it is a commitment to a way of life. Unlike the definition we might come to from the world, God’s definition is selfless. Love is not inwardly focused but it is focused on our relationship with others and how we treat them. Love is not something that we should turn on and off or experience highs and lows but it is a way of living that God has demonstrated and called us to.

It was demonstrated by God in this, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (John3:16-17)” God showed us what love is. He showed us a love that wasn’t dependent on any reciprocation or act on our part. He sacrificed his son for us so that we might be forgiven while we were still sinners and at odds with him because of our sinfulness. Yet how often do we look at love as a reciprocal process in which we withhold love unless we get something out of it. That is why we must be reminded of who has taught us to love and who defines love.

Love is so much more than we can even fathom. “God is love… We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:16, 19)” When we start to comprehend that it is God who defines love, because he is love, then we will begin to see how small our worldly perspective of love really is. We can only experience and live out love when it is from God. We apart from God can only try to imitate what love is and we don’t have to look very far to see how the world is doing with that. The great news is that God does not withhold his love from us. Galatians 5:22-23 states, “…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” God equips us with his fruit which gives us hope that we can strive to love as he has loved us. So as we continue to go forward each day let us not get caught up in the worldly perspective of love that diminishes its true value but constantly be reminded of the truth. God is love and he loves us more than we ever will deserve. Now let us go and love others as we have been loved.

Prayer: Dear Lord God, thank you for loving me a poor miserable sinner. I am not worthy of your love but it is in your love for me that you demonstrate what love is. Lord, help me to love selflessly as you have loved us. Guide me to love others regardless of how they might treat me. Lord, continue to pour out your love through your Spirit so that I might be strengthened and equipped to love as you have commanded. I ask this in the name of Jesus, Amen.

Further Thoughts:

1. How do God’s love and the world’s love differ?

2. What might look different in your life if you began to love as God has directed us to love?