We hear the word “love” thrown around a lot these days. With the world the way it is ~ all the backbiting and ridicule ~ many people are talking about loving one another, but what does that really mean? Does anyone really know what they are talking about when they say that?
When we, as Christians, talk about love, we generally are referring to biblical agape love. But, how often do we actual apply it? Are we even capable of loving in such a way?
We see the word ‘love” (in the NKJV version of the bible) appear 310 times ~ 179 of those in the New Testament alone. Love is the reason Christ came for our sins; love is the reason Adam was given Eve, and the Christian was given the church.
Yet, what most of us do is not love, like God intended, rather we seek validation.
Charlotte Lucas said it well in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, “There are few of us who are secure enough to be within love without proper encouragement.”
Isn’t this so true? We often need encouragement to love one another. We love in order to receive love in return, not just for the reason of giving love.
God tells us in Luke 6:35, “But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.”
We are to love even our enemies, without expecting anything. Yet we expect everything, don’t we? At the first sign of love not being reciprocal we remove ourselves from it. When we do not receive the propping up on the pedestal we think we deserve for the love we’ve given out, we feel depressed, unwanted, unloved, undesired. We feel our lives are meaningless and many decide to give up on even trying to have any relationships at all. Marriages fail, friendships break, families fall apart. Satan has successfully taken the most gracious of gifts from our Lord, the gift of Love, and turned it into a weapon.
So how do we take back the gracious gift? How do we stop seeking validation and start loving?
We need to learn what God says about what love truly is:
Romans 12:9a says, “Let love be without hypocrisy.” ~ without hypocrisy ~ meaning sincere and truthful without claiming to have higher reverence than what is true. Don’t love falsely.
Mark 12:31 states a great commandment to love your neighbor as yourself. We sure do love ourselves don’t we? What would the world look like if we truly loved people with more love than we have for ourselves?
Of course there is always 1 Corinthians 13 that gives us the greatest definition of what love in action looks like: patient, kind, does not envy, does not boast, is not proud, does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, not easily angered, keeps no records of wrongs, does not delight in evil, rejoices in truth, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. WOW! Really think about all of these things. This is truly what love is. There is no validation anywhere to be found in there. Just a deliberate giving of oneself to the improvement and care of another. God tells us in 1 Corinthians 13:13 that there is nothing greater that we can have than love ~ not faith or hope, but love. Seeing the description of love in the preceding verses shows us why.
So we need to love greatly, without hypocrisy, laying down our lives (our validation, our feelings, our hopes) for the giving of love to others. Isn’t this exactly what Christ did for us? In our sin even, He gave up Himself for us. There has never been a more accurate picture of what true agape love is! Christ loved His father so much and His father loved us so much that death was conquered by a single act of unconditional love. This fact alone should cause us to act in a way that we love without regard for ourselves and for only the good of others.
How would all of our relationships look like if we sought true Biblical love? It would look the way God intended it!
Don’t get me wrong, saying it and knowing it are far easier than doing it… but what if we truly put into practice that which God fully intended ~ to the best of our ability? What if we took back our greatest gift from Satan and reclaimed it for what it should be?
The Holy Spirit is with us and God can do anything through us! So I challenge you this year to show true Biblical love ~ throwing out validation and self-seeking. Realizing that not everyone (in fact maybe no one) will return your love with true love, but giving God the glory to love without boundaries and pre-requisites. Love with an intentional love for the benefit of others, instead of ourselves, so that the love of Christians is a love that is a brilliant light for all to see and everyone to proclaim, “That is truly only a love God can bring.”
About the author:
Kristen Wells has a bachelors of science degree in biblical counseling and is the author of The Warring Soul. She resides in California with her wonderful husband, Greg, her son, Justin, and her daughter, Katie.
Besides writing, Kristen enjoys reading, knitting, playing board games, substitute teaching at her kid’s school, teaching bible at Santa Clarita Christian School, and mentoring youth. When she is not attending to the needs of her family, you can find Kristen curled up with a good book and a cup of coffee or fellowshiping with friends. Above all, she lives to exemplify Christ in her everyday life and help others to find their way out of darkness.