Since it’s Valentine’s Day, I decided to spare myself the trouble of writing about romantic love, since I know nothing about it anyway, as you could probably tell from my post on Christian dating last week.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud [1 Corinthians 13:4]. How often do we hear these words, but actually process them? If we try to do each of these things separately, we ultimately will fail to love, because love will seem like a chore. However, love is freedom. Love is a choice – it is unconditional and not self-seeking. Love is not an emotion; we don’t only love when we feel like loving people, when the conditions in our relationship are conducive to loving them, such as after they do something for us. Love presupposes nothing – there is no addendum to love. It is not, “I love you, because [insert superficial reason here],” but rather, simply “I love you, because I choose to love you.” We love, because He first loved us [1 John 4:19]. How beautiful is that statement “I love you” then.
Some might say, “If we can freely give out love to just anyone, doesn’t that cheapen what love is?” There is nothing cheap about love. Love may be free, but it is costly, much like grace. Love is self-sacrificing – it is recognizing that no one is more deserving of our own time than other people; we are not even deserving of our own time. Quite frankly, love is inconvenient; if it were convenient and easy, it would not be love, because love demands us placing someone else’s needs above our own, and laying down our pride to say that someone else is more important. Love only becomes cheapened when we use it in place of saying “thank you,” because then, we make it conditional (such as when someone does a favor for you, and you say “I love you! Thanks so much!”)
We accept the love we think we deserve. The other side of loving people is receiving love. Often, we reject people’s love simply because we don’t think we are deserving of being loved. But if we view love as being unconditional, almost free in a sense, why shouldn’t we allow love into our lives? When we reject God’s love for us, likewise, it often stems from the world telling us that we have to be “good enough” for people to love us. However, we will never be “good enough” for God to love us, and thankfully, we don’t have to be. Love is not about a combination of Jesus and good works; it’s just Jesus. Nothing we do can ever make us deserving of God’s love – all we can and need to do is accept it.
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer [Romans 12:10-12]. Loving our brothers and sisters means being intentional in our time together, but also simply wanting the best for one another. The only absolute is to love, but how we manifest that love can and should change, depending on the situation. Sometimes, loving someone means not outwardly showing them love. Birds show love to their babies when they push them out of the nest, forcing their babies to learn to fly and fend for themselves. Love may look different in each relationship we have, but that does not mean we’re not loving them if it’s unconventional. To love is to serve God; when we love our brothers and sisters, we do what is best for their growth, to serve and glorify God in our relationships.
Jesus is alive, yesterday, today, and forever. If He is alive in us, we are love. We have the capacity to love others unconditionally, despite it going against every fiber of our worldly being. We are created by love, with love, to love.
“What you are is God’s gift to you, what you become is your gift to God.” [Hans Urs von Balthasar]