“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13 (NIV) “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 (NIV) Have you ever fallen in love? You really thought this person was THE one, and he or she felt the same. Then, out of nowhere, that person dumps you. What happened? Was that real love?
What about seeking a relationship because you feel lonely? Is that true love?
Not at all. Love is never self-seeking, for genuine love puts others above ourselves.
Love is not a feeling, for we can be attracted to people, but after only a short time, they begin to look boring and disappointing. Nowhere in the Bible does Jesus urge us to respond to the “feeling” of love. Instead, Jesus wants our actions to portray true, unselfish love, the love that He showed to us: “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son a propitiation for our sins.” 1 John 4:10 (Darby). Jesus’ love for us is defined through His sacrifice on the cross. Do our actions portray this type of love? Is our love so unselfish that we are willing to sacrifice for others?
When we sacrifice for others out of love, we cannot expect something in return, for as soon as we expect any type of payback, we know that our love has become self-serving: “This is how we have come to know love: He laid down His life for us. We should also lay down our lives for our brothers.” 1 John 3:16 (HCSB).
In the same way, too many of us serve God for selfish reasons, thinking: “If I do ____, my Heavenly Father will reward me!” Sadly, so many churches promote this idea by promising wealth and blessing to their members for doing this and that, and many pastors preach that if members are not doing their duty, they do not deserve to be part of the church. The truth is, however, that apart from accepting Jesus’ gift of Salvation, there is nothing we could ever “do” that would win our favor in God’s eyes. How could we earn what is already freely given? God is already nuts about us: “For whoever touches you touches the apple of his eye.” Zechariah 2:8 (NIV). Sadly, these churches are not fostering true love, but rather the self-focused kind.
By contrast, true love, whether shown to God or to our fellow mankind, expects nothing in return. Our love is only genuine when our own interests begin to take second place to the needs of others: “Don’t act out of selfish ambition or be conceited. Instead, humbly think of others as being better than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3 (GW). This total lack of expectation shows that our love is real, for this is the same love Jesus showed us when He put the needs of a hurting world above His own by willingly going to the cross. Are we ready for this kind of loving? “A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; even as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” John 13:34 (ASV).
Jim Elliot knew what true love was all about. His 8-year old son once asked him: “If the Waodani attack, will you defend yourselves? Will you use your guns?” Jim responded, “Son, we can’t shoot the Waodani, they are not ready for heaven. We are!” Jim Elliot and his team were later slaughtered by those same people, but his son never harbored bitterness towards them. In fact, he would eventually befriend and minister to the same ones who murdered his father. That is the Jesus-type of love, for when we sacrifice for one another through faith, we follow in the footsteps of Jesus Himself: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Mark 8:34b (NIV).
What kind of love are you looking for?
Rob Chaffart To contact us click here