Anyone, who is an observer of human relationships, doesn’t have to look very far to discover that we live in a society that is starving for authentic love. And even though the ancient wisdom of the Holy Bible is clear on what love does, and does not do, (See 1 Corinthians 13:4-8,) there is nothing in the Bible about what love IS. Let me correct this a bit: The Bible does say that “God IS Love;” however, does this mean we tell people, “Hey, I God you today?” I don’t think so. My point is that we would be wise to be able to grasp how to actually spell love practically, understand each letter, and then we would do well to assimilate love, while we discover that love can only come from God. In the process, we would actually grasp loves meaning. Then, we will have the ability to intentionally make it part of our lives, experience it, live it, and then give it away.
On this fourth Sunday of Advent, the people of God, light the candle of Love. As we set fire to candle, I am going to challenge you to spell love. I have done this since 1979, and I will tell you this has been my own personal guiding principle. Please know we will not be spelling love “L.O.V.E.” We will be spelling it C.A.R.E.
C: A Choice of Commitment
When God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son to us to save us from bondage to sin and death, He made a choice to be committed to us. He didn’t fall in love with us, as if He didn’t have any control in the matter. Authentic love has nothing to do with falling into love. Why? This is so because, if you can fall in love, then you can fall out of love when the going get’s tough. Sadly, too many today live by this kind of principle, and so relationships do not hold up when life gets stormy. God chose to be committed to us. He Chose, even though many would reject Him. He chose to be committed, even though it meant He would be wounded, bruised, whipped, crucified, dead and buried. God exemplified love. There is not greater love than to lay down your life for those your love! God is love, and as love, God demonstrated this important truth: Love IS a choice, and it is a choice to be committed. If we love someone, and I mean we really love someone, It begins with us making a choice.
A PRINCIPLE POINT
Here is a salient point: If you want to love someone, and if you want to make this choice to be committed to that special person, it is vital you have a relationship with God through His Son, Jesus. 1 John 4:7-8 makes is clear that love comes to us, and through us, singularly, from God. The Word of God explains this well: You receive the supernatural power to love solitarily by making Jesus the Lord of your life. That is, you can give away authentic agape, or heavenly love, by receiving it from God. Your first choice, therefore, is to commit your life to the true and living God, through faith in Jesus Christ, who has already chosen to be committed to you. Then, when you do so, the power to love will begin flowing through you, and you will be given the power to give that committed love away, by your own choice.
What About 50/50?
I have heard people say, “Love is a 50/50 proposition.” REALLY? Think about this: If you are going to take an exam, but you only get a 50, what do you have? You have failure! Therefore, if two people are in relationship, and they only have, as a target, 50% effort, the relationship breaks down. What if each is having a bad day? It’s clear there is zero connection; however, if each sets as a target to offer 100%, with God’s help, and by His grace, the outcome will be far better. If one has a 65% partially good day, and the other is having a 35% good day, then the miracle of God given love flows through the relationship.
I personally pray for my wife, and for myself, daily, to receive from God the ability to love the Lord our God with all our hearts, minds, souls and strength, and that we will love each other the way we love ourselves. I also pray we give this same love away to our children, grandchildren and neighbors. This has worked for a very long time, even if we are having a difficult time. I do this because I know that love is a choice of commitment, and the ability to truly love only comes from God and God alone. This is the 100% truth!
The Ancient Wisdom of the Bible teaches that acceptance is vital for demonstrated love: Romans 5:8 “God demonstrates His love for us in that, even while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” God takes us as we are. God accepts us! He takes us flaws and all. He doesn’t do, like a young lady I once heard say, and perhaps many have said. “When we get married, I will change them.” This is called, by some, the “Pygmalion project.” This is where one persons form of “love” is demonstrated by making their other important person into the image they want them to be. This stinking thinking is doomed to failure. If the two are not seemingly injured, extended family is injured. Ask anyone, whose child has abandoned them because of the influence of their adult child’s spouse, and they can tell you this is true. We call this “Grandparent Alienation Syndrome.” It is also called elder abuse.
Folks, we are all flawed, and the longer we are in relationship, the more we will see the other person differently. It is true. People don’t stay the same. Ten year old people, don’t think like twenty year old people. Thirty year old people don’t think like forty year old people. If you actually do marry someone, you will be right, when you say, “they are not the same person I married!” If we choose to follow the God example, we will take each other, flaws and all, and we will work together, with God’s love, mercy and grace flowing through our lives. We will become one with the Lord, and we will become one with each other. No, we do not accept abuse of any kind! Hopefully this includes the abuse of extended family. But we do accept one another, as we grow older together, and experience life together. Then we can truly be on track to love each other, and others as well.
Jesus once, while with His disciples, did an uncanny thing: He took off His Rabbinical Robe, and He put on a slaves garment. He stooped down, and even though He is the Son of God, and He is one with God the Father, He washed His disciples stinking and dirty feet. Folks this is respect., and it involves demonstrating a servants heart, from God. It is also an example of how God demonstrates His love, and He expects us to love others similarly. Showing the world you respect your beloved is a precious thing. Showing them that you are there for them, when they are hurting and need you, is vital. Being there for them respects them.
Sadly, and all to often, we see so called lovers, putting their mates down, even in public. Look a little deeper, and you see that it’s difficult so see the supposed special other being “there” for the other, when the going gets tough. Aretha Franklin was correct, as she sang about the perfect, God demonstrated philosophy. Are you old enough to remember “R.E.S.P.E.C.T. You don’t know how much that means to me … Give me a little respect when you come home.” Without this important part of God’s love flowing through us, there is little love at all.
Jesus, who came, also wants to come to us today, and He is available as the ONE the Bible calls “The Wonderful Counselor.” In Hebrews 4:15-16, we hear how this Wonderful Counselor makes Himself available to us empathically, and helps up to live a better quality of life. Check this out:
“We have a High Priest that empathizes with our feelings and infirmities, and He can do so because He was tempted like we have been tempted; yet, He never sinned. Therefore, come boldly unto the throne of grace, that you may obtain mercy, and that you may find grace to help you in your time of need.”
This is a classic description of showing love via Empathy: The ONE who loves us hears us, actually listens, understands how we feel, and He does so because He walked among us as, “God with us.” He comes along side of us. He can do so because He went through everything we go through in the human body, and He overcame in all things; therefore He, with experience and the wisdom of Almighty God, knows how to help us overcome. He helps us live a full life.
When we demonstrate love we demonstrate God’s grace to Empathize. I can tell you doing so definitely takes having a relationship with God. Then, we listen. We seek to understand. When we get to a place of understanding, as we journey along side of the one we love, we help the person come to a place of making decisions for a better quality of life. It’s like the song which says, “Walk a mile in my shoes.” All to often we want to fix a persons problem, and we want have a quick answer, but the loving experience is truly felt and experienced when the ones in love seek first empathy with one another.
Those Warm Fuzzy Feelings
There is one important issue that we have to examine. Most people think of love as those warm fuzzy feelings you get when you “fall in love.” Feelings come and go through life. Some days we feel really blessed, sensual, beloved, loved, happy, calm, and just really good, when we are around the one who “makes” us feel so good; however, life can happen in ways where there is pain, sorrow, anger, fear and feelings of being overwhelmed. Sometimes anger will take over. Guess whom we displace those painful feelings on when we are having a horrible, terrible, very bad and no good day. It’s usually the one we are suppose be loving.
Listen, if your definition of love is based on how you think the other person is going to make you feel, or vice versa, then you are setting yourself, and the other one, up with the potential for a lot of pain. Contrary to what a lot of modernist thinking says, love IS NOT an emotion. Love may involve emotions, but love cannot be only based on you just feelings.
How God Spells Love: C.A.R.E
When a person perceives that a person has, with God’s help, Chosen to demonstrate God given commitment to them, accepts them, respects them and empathizes with them, then those warm fuzzy feelings we associate with love will likely well up within their being. To the degree that both parties do the same for each other, it is amazing how the storms of life don’t tear them apart, but make them stronger together, as they become one.
How do you spell love? You spell it Commitment, Acceptance, Respect and Empathy. This is how God spells His love for us, and He really can give us grace to demonstrate is similarly. Therefore, love is NOT merely something based on feeling. Love is not just and emotional trip, but it can involve feelings. Authentic love actually produces loving feelings. However, never forget. Love IS A Choice.
God Bless You