For a long time, I’ve had this love thing all mixed up. It is not until recently that I was brought to the realization that I’m wired all wrong and my way of thinking about love is flawed. And, from that flawed way of thinking I have left a trail of missed opportunities to love. I’m not sure where I veered off course but I’m guessing it was at a very young age. As I think back on my life, I begin to see where my understanding of love didn’t align with God’s definition and I thank the Holy Spirit for imparting this wisdom upon me.
Like many, my humble beginning consisted of two parents who loved me and anxiously waited for my arrival. Once I entered this world, my parents gave of themselves to nurture me. They served (bathe, clothed, fed, and sang) me. So, I guess I had to be a happy baby. To this day, I can remember moments of my life when my dad was alive…at age 3 and 4. Our memory is a fascinating thing. I can’t remember what I did last year on the 4th of July but somehow I can still remember moments when I was 3 and 4 years of age.
Things rapidly changed when my dad died which was about 5 weeks before my 5th birthday. Things weren’t the same. People weren’t the same. We moved from our home to an apartment and everyone was so sad.
Within six (6) months of my dad’s death, something devastating happened to me of which I am not quite ready to discuss openly but I believe it was the precursor to my distorted understanding of love. The first year after my dad’s death was a bit much for this five year old. The things I endured…the things that happened to me…happened in silence. My mom’s heart was heavy from the death of my dad and, at 5, I knew she couldn’t take much more so very little was said.
So as you can imagine, entering elementary school was a little rocky….at a time when social and emotional development begins. From elementary school through college, everything around me indicated that love was about me. Love was about how I wanted someone to make me feel and if they failed at doing so then they didn’t love me. Relationships were about perfection. If you lacked perfection in your relationship with me then I had no choice but to conclude that you didn’t truly love me. This thing called love was all about me!
Well, I had it all wrong. God has taught me through scripture that love is not about me…it is about how I serve others.
This is what God Says About This Thing Called Love:
Serving One Another
- Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves (Galatians 6:2 NIV).
- You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love (Galatians 5:13 NIV).
- Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”(Mark 10: 42-45 NIV)
- Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. (I Peter 4: 10 NIV)
Esteeming Others Above Yourself
- Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves (Romans 12:10 NIV).
- Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification (Romans 14:19 NIV).
- Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the nameof the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3: 13-17 NIV)
- Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you (Ephesians 4:32 NIV).
- Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed (I Peter 3: 8-14 NIV).
- Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2: 3-11 NIV).
Coming to the truth has brought me such joy in my relationship with my children, husband, family, friends and colleagues. Instead of me asking “What have you done for me lately?”, I ask what have I done for them lately? I often look for ways I can edify (uplift) others instead of the other way around. I trust God will supply all my needs that includes the love and joy I need to thrive here on earth.
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. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us (I John 4:7-16 NIV).
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails (I Corinthians 13: 4-8).
Love is…..6 Lessons on What Love Look Like by Jenna Lucado Bishop
Bold as Love: What Can Happen When We See People the Way God Does by Bob Roberts Jr.