It’s February, the LOVE month. You know “Roses are red, Violets are blue…….”
We either dread this month or embrace the whole Valentines thing. It’s a marketing windfall (to the tune of $18 billion) and high season for the romantics among us. Pretty harmless stuff for the most part. Come on, who can’t appreciate the childlike candy heart?
It’s our excesses and our romanticizing that gets us in trouble.
We have romanticized romance. And we have romanticized love. We speak of love in breathy terms that make it seem as if a trance have overtaken us. Or something we were uncontrollably swallowed by. It is hyped, hyper-sexualized and strangely unfamiliar to the love most of us experience.
And it appears to be effortless, especially when we purchase the required Valentine’s day product or pull off the extravagant Facebook photo op for our loved one.
Here’s the truth. Love is work. It is commitment. It is sacrificial It’s even dull and grueling. It is the slow, plodding work of loving a spouse. Or the highs and lows of loving your own children. Or the steady loyalty in friendships. None of THESE scenes make great Facebook pics.
Let’s widen our lens. Loving our church family or the community we live in or the place we are called to—all take work.
The distorted images we see in media set us up for comparisons. Shannon Martin, a young, married mom in Connecticut confides:
Romantic movies make you think your relationship is supposed to be so amazing, passionate and exciting all the time. My marriage isn’t like that, and sometimes I wonder if something’s wrong.
Let’s take love off the movie screen, off our Facebook wall and get it back into reality. Don’t let the world or the media highjack what true love really is.
Consider these thoughts:
We believe that love is indeed an act of the will. But we need to go one step further and affirm that love is also an emotion. Affections are part of the essence of love. These emotions might not always be intense, but they are always there to some extent.
One piece of evidence for this is found in 1 Corinthians 13:1-3, where Paul says that “you can give away all your possessions to the poor and still not have love.” Evidently, then, love is more than an act of the will, because you can have a sacrificial act of the will without having love. Also note that in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, love is said to involve various affections: “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.“
That love involves not only the will, but also the affections, is born out in everyday experience. Imagine a husband who seeks the welfare of his wife, but doesn’t enjoy doing it. Would his wife feel loved? We doubt it. Even if the husband did not dislike serving his wife, but simply was indifferent in doing it, she still would not feel loved. This is because we intuitively recognize that emotions are an essential part of love. Love includes not just willing, but also preferring and wanting and delighting. — Is love the act of the will, or of emotion?
Biblical Love is an act of the will accompanied by emotion that leads to action on behalf of its object.
The rule for all of us is perfectly simple. Do not waste time bothering whether you “love” your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him. If you injure someone you dislike, you will find yourself disliking him more. If you do him a good turn, you will find yourself disliking him less.
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love…My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends…You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love…My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends…You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other. — John 15: 9-17
For the rest of the month of February we are going to look at love through this less than glamorous lens: Love is work. And love is sacrificial, in nearly all areas of our lives-marriage, parenting, the churches we serve, our friendships etc.
Love is work.
Dull, yes. Very un-sexy. Very little hype.
Pursue love……1 Corinthians 14:1
Published February 2, 2015