We know how important love is, for Jesus let us know in the Great Commandment that we are to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves. So love is very important. Love is one of the Fruits of the Spirit. At the core love is emotional. It is a feeling. It is sensed and recognized by us but it is intangible. The intangible emotion of love is always attached to something tangible. Love does not stand on it’s own, it is attached to something or someone.
Let’s take a look at our love for God. When we truly and deeply love God we get so much from our relationship with Him; security, belonging, purpose, comfort, and assurance to mention just a few of love’s benefits when we are truly in love with God. These are all emotional experiences as a result of our love relationship with God.
God can be the love of our life! But for this kind of love we must spend time with Him. As we are mostly aware, relationships where love can and should be cultivated requires time and effort. It is suggested that we cultivate our love for God by carving out some Quiet Time for prayer and inspirational reading, every single day. If we do this our love for God will increase over time and our sense of God’s love for us will be more felt and known. God’s love never increases or diminishes – it is our love that grows by spending time in His presence.
Life is not easy sometimes. It can be downright difficult. The love of God is greater than everything life throws at us. When our faith is low, our love relationship with God never fails. When our hope is dim, our love for God and His love for us will not fail us. The love of God is what our soul wants the most, and what God wants the most. God is eager to love and be loved and our soul longs for the same. In our hearts we know this is true.
Now let’s take a look at loving others. Some people might think life would be better if it weren’t for the people in it. Well, people can make life challenging, for sure. But on balance our family, friends, colleagues, and aquantenances all add to a rich and meaningful life. We need people to love and we need to be loved. Feelings of loneliness are much harder on us than learning how to get-along with people in a loving way; figuring out how to love others and be loved.
This is rarely understood, but real love involves sacrifice in some way. Our Heavenly Father is our example on this one: God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son. This well-known verse makes it pretty clear that genuine love and sacrifice is inseparably joined. This verse also helps us to understand that love is doubtful without sacrifice somewhere in the mix.
Love is about giving and not about taking. When we love people and they love us back – that’s just the best and really what we want. We hope our love is returned as we give it to others – yet unfortunately love doesn’t always find reciprocity. This is when we step-up and love people anyway. In other words, we love people in spite of their weaknesses and lack of reciprocity.
God loves us so much and has the right to expect us to love Him; to fall in love with Him. God has a right to solicit reciprocity from us because He knows everything about us. His assessments and expectations are fair and true. God is the lover and the knower of our soul and knows why and when to expect love from us. But we are different from God. We are not omniscient, all knowing, and often wrong about the motives and intentions of others. Because of these kinds of limitations and blurred perceptions, not to mention our faults, it is our heavenly duty to love without receiving love; to love those who love us but to also love those who don’t.
When we really love someone we are not trying to just get what we want – we are trying to give others what they they want. We are looking for ways to acquiesce and compromise. We are not looking for ways to disagree or ways to be right about something. Love is greater than right when it comes to our personal relationships. We can never sacrifice our morals, ethics, spiritual progress, or suffer physical abuse of course, but all else is on the table for consideration, to compromise and acquiescence, when we have a genuine love for someone.
Love between a husband and a wife is one of the best training camps to learn how to sacrificially love someone. Marriage is not as we have heard so many times – a fifty-fifty percent proposition. Marriage is not about percentages. It is about giving all of oneself to another person and that person giving all of themselves to us. Marriage at its best is an opportunity to trust someone enough to love them sacrificially.
In all truly loving relationships, marital or otherwise, especially the very close ones; sacrifice is involved or it should be, if the relationship is what it should be. We have to learn to modify our expectations and accept some losses, so that love can have it’ s way. We must replace bitterness, resentment, and intolerances with forgiveness, acceptance, generosity, and patience. Never treat people unfairly or unequally no matter what. We must leave people better than we found them. The love that’s needed, yes required, to love our neighbor like ourselves is rooted in sacrifice. Give that we might receive, but above this – love that we might give.
Joseph C. Hutchison, January 2021, Rochester Hills, Michigan