Since it’s near Valentine’s Day I thought it would be worth reading about love in scripture and actually putting the Biblical definition of love to work in my closest relationships this month. Join me in my little experiments to actually LOVE the way God defines it. (And hint: it doesn’t involved champagne or chocolate. But for the record…I am PRO-champagne-and-chocolate!)
We talk about love as if its just a feeling, but the Bible says love isn’t defined by our emotions at all. I know – gasp! We can love without “feeling it” all the time. We can love without the perfect relationship or the perfect circumstances or the perfect spouse (good luck with that one). I’m convinced our definition of love has gotten mixed up much more with our culture than it is with our Bible.
It’s easy to read about love. It’s easy to watch Netflix shows about love. It’s harder to actually DO love to those around us. If we want to love someone according to the Biblical view on love, it’s going to take 3 things that are much easier read than done.
Love, according to God….
GIVES things up.
DOES real stuff.
We get a pretty straight-up definition of love-according-to-God in the New Testament, but you can see this definition of love at work all over the pages of the Bible – especially in the life of Jesus.
“We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person? Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.” 1 John 3:16-18
Love is not about us having the right feelings for someone else. If we actually love someone according to the Biblical definition then it may actually have the consequence of changing feelings! This is kind of a mind-blowing shift, y’all. It really is.
Let me tell you about how love was done to me a few weeks ago. My husband, Bill, is the one who did it and refreshed my memory about what God’s kind of love looks like. Here’s what went down:
He sent me to a hotel room by myself for a night to work. He saw I was stressed about finishing two major projects. He noticed I couldn’t get stuff done as effectively working at home with four kids in and out of quarantines and online school. So he booked a hotel room for me, packed me a snack bag and did Dad-duty until the next day at noon.
He saw me. Really saw me. He didn’t focus on the fact that I hadn’t cooked dinner in 5 nights or the extra stuff that wasn’t getting done for him or around the house…but instead he really saw what I was going through.
He gave things up for me. He took time to figure out what to do. He worked from home the next morning (which as I well-know is VERY hard and inefficient with all the kids there for “virtual Wednesdays.” He gave up his evening to do all the kid-stuff. He skipped his workout and drove around the city instead. He sacrificed to give to me.
He took action. He had to actually DO something you could see. There was a reservation in my email inbox. There was a snack bag. You can see the actions of real love. It doesn’t stay “in my heart” or as a “good intention.” Something gets done that can be observed with your eyes! Love does.
And wow did my feelings become involved on the backside of those actions. I felt so loved. My husband’s random, Tuesday-night act of love wasn’t “romantic:” it was much better. It was love. And the impact? Well besides serving me and my work, it also softened my heart in a way that roses don’t (though I admit I love roses too). And it motivated me to want to love him like that, too.
If we want to feel the emotions of love, we have to do the actions of love. And the good news is that we can love like God loves no matter how we feel at the beginning of it!
This is not just for our marriages and romantic relationships. What if we dared to love people like this who believed in different political candidates or policies? What if we took a few minutes at work to love the guy who actually sorta drives us completely nuts? What if love wasn’t about US or our emotions at all? What if it was a weapon that God has given us to change our hearts and the hearts of others?
So let’s do this. I’m making a post-it note right now for my desk. I’m putting my husband, kids and a couple others on it (that I’m not especially excited to love). I wrote the words SEE/GIVE/DO on the top to remind me to watch for something they need, be prepared to GIVE UP something of my own and actually follow through with a plan – no matter how small – to love them in a tangible way.
I’m going to practice loving better. I suspect it might be easier read than done.
But let’s go try.