It's the week of Valentine's Day and everyone's talking about it . . . love. The decorations in restaurants are pink and filled with hearts, there are new movies out for your dating needs, jewelry commercials are playing around the clock on Facebook, Spotify, radio, and TV. When we look around, we know this isn't what love is all about. Valentine's Day is a fun holiday to celebrate, but it does leave us asking, "Does our culture know what love is?” We know what love is, right?
You may have heard it said that if you are a Christian, you should be a person with the most love because you know what God's love is. Have you heard that? I know I have! The truth is, I don’t feel this way all the time. There are times when I have felt wounded and burned by people and when this happens, the last thing I want to do is love someone as Jesus did.
If we could love someone the way our culture defines love, it would be easier to carry out. The Merriam-Webster dictionary primarily defines love as, "a strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties." The second definition states, "attraction based on sexual desire: affection and tenderness felt by lovers." These definitions allude to a “feeling,” and as I have come to learn, love is a choice, not a feeling. If we chose to love by these definitions, it would be much easier. Loving someone because of the feelings they stimulate or the companionship they give is possible. We can do that.
However, Jesus totally redefines love. He says that love is a sacrifice, and sacrifice is a choice. Romans 5:8 says, "But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” God's demonstration of love paid the ultimate price: the death of His only begotten Son on a cross. Consequently, He calls us to follow in his footsteps. "Let all that you do be done in love" (1 Corinthians 16:14). I find myself asking, "Really God, everything must be done in love?" He defines love again in John 13:34-35: "So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples." Do you feel the pressure?
When you we come across loving people, we know that they will look out for others, that they care, and we trust that the motivations of their actions are not just to benefit themselves, but others around them. We feel refreshed when we are able to spend time with a loving person. The person I think of immediately is my husband. I feel safe, I know he is looking out for me, and he is consistently choosing to sacrifice for me. I remember a small change in myself after we were married. All of a sudden, I had slightly more compassion, grace, and love for those I interacted with every day. Human love can do that. When we experience love from someone, we feel the freedom to pass it on to the next person, or pay it forward. This is just the effect of human love.
When you we come across a loving, all-powerful God . . . we know. Our human love is so limited and self-seeking in nature, in that we are driven by what we feel rather than by the stable Source. Our love needs to come from the Source. Love is like a river; it begins somewhere apart from itself, such as from a lake or an ocean. A river is a “downstream” water source that is filled from the abundance of a much larger water source. Love does not always flow from me because I do not always tap into the larger Source; even when I do so, I am not always consistent or fully reliant on that Source as my human desire is to be self-sufficient and independent. "Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love" (1 John 4:7-8). God doesn't just have love; He IS love. Our love supply is depleted when we don't spend time with the Source of our love. That's why I have found 20 Bible verses for us to meditate on regarding God’s love this week.
Hannah Lynn hosts Moody Radio’s That’s Real and is an engineer for Karl and Crew mornings. She grew up as a homeschooler on a tree farm, plays the harp (ask her about harp camp), drives a Prius (don’t judge), and started a fashion blog while a student at Moody Bible Institute (yes, that’s possible). Hannah loves to tell people about Jesus—as a seven-year-old she witnessed to her ballet teacher, then she started a Young Life club while in high school. Now she mentors teens with her husband, John, who serves as a youth pastor.
That’s Real with Hannah Lynn gives a one-minute dose of encouragement and advice to young adults who want to love and live God’s Word. Her fast-paced mix of storytelling and Bible truth helps create understanding between young believers and anyone who wants to follow Jesus one day at a time.