If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. (1st Cor: 13:1)
When I consider the vastness of the English language it puts me in a place of awe. However when I think of the vastness of each and every one of those thousands upon thousands of words the feeling is indescribable.
Today we are going to take just one of those words, and examine and discuss it.
Webster's 1828 Describes this word in great detail, let's look at his initial definition:
"In a general sense to be pleased with; to regard with affection, on account of some qualities which excite pleasing sensations or desire of gratification."
We are called to love. But what is love? I tell people I love them on a regular basis, and I do love them or else I wouldn't say such a thing. However, I do not believe I have ever deeply considered the merits of the word LOVE.
Let's look at Webster, he sees the word LOVE as a physical property as well as emotional. I think this is spot on. Indeed, he describes the many kinds of love further in his definition:
"We love a friend, on account of some qualities which give us pleasure in his society. We love a man who has done us a favor; in which case, gratitude enters into the composition of our affection. We love our parents and our children, on account of their connection with us, and on account of many qualities which please us. We love to retire to a cool shade in summer. We love a warm room in winter. we love to hear an eloquent advocate. The Christian loves his Bible. In short, we love whatever gives us pleasure and delight, whether animal or intellectual; and if our hearts are right, we love God above all things, as the sum of all excellence and all the attributes which can communicate happiness to intelligent beings."
Webster's definition, as well as the world today tends to treat Love as a "Self-centered" word.
Consider such phrases as:
"Do you love me?"
"I love you."
"I love God."
Many times we set ourselves as the standard for our love. We choose to love because deep down we seek to be loved in return. Why is it that when we love, we feel the need to prove it? Why is it that we feel the need to always let someone know we love them?
I think it is prudent to examine our end goals.
Merriam-Webster's dictionary defines love in part as:
"Unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another: as (1) : the fatherly concern of God for humankind(2) : brotherly concern for others."
I believe this is the kind of love we must have. Not the inward love, not the love that says "I, I, I" but the love that says "You, you, you".
This is perfectly laid out in 1st Corinthians 13. Have you ever noticed that this chapter, though speaking to your heart as changes you must make, is for the most part an "Away-centered" passage? Let's take a look:
"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never ends."
God takes Love very seriously, but He also discusses it's properties while using LOVE as a noun. Love, as a noun, is patient. You, as a person are not patient, but rather LOVE is patient. LOVE is not arrogant. God knows that His creation is broken, He understands we are fallen sinners.
I believe it is because of this that He chooses to speak on Love in this manner. Without God, we are nothing. We must be fully dependent on HIM in order to accomplish anything, and we must be willing to live our lives full of the love that HE instills in us. God's view of love is "Other's-centered", whereas mankind's view of love tends to be "Self-centered".
An exhortation from one struggling sinner to another: Can we agree to examine our hearts fully and question our motives of love? Can we work together THROUGH Christ to shift our perspectives and seek to love in a way that is not insisting on its own way, and love in a manner that increases others while decreasing ourselves?
If each of us watches out for one another then it will create room for God to be at the center of all our lives. Love one another. Truly love in a manner that is honest. Do not waste this precious word. God holds LOVE in the highest of ways, with deepest reverence. In our day and age we have lost that reverence.
What do you say we cease using LOVE like it's candy but rather treat it as gold?