The power of love: what does love look like, actually? Am I loving people the way Jesus asked me to?
You know, so often people overuse and misuse the word love. I’m sure I’ve done it before. We say “love you”, but are we really loving people? We sign our letters xoxoxoxo. Is that love? This was a question I had to ask myself. If Jesus said that the number one command was to love God, and the second most important command was to love people – I had better make sure I am doing it! So, what is love? How do I know for sure that I am loving people? What does that look like? Is love simply being polite? Jesus said to even love our enemies (Matthew 5:44). That is what sets Christianity apart from a few other world religions. We’ve all heard this verse at weddings. I admit that this verse has been rather boring for me to read in the past, but as I am seeking what love really is, this scripture has come alive to me…
“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 KJV
The fact is that there are people who say “I love so and so” who — I wonder if they truly do when held up to the light of this verse. For example, love is not jealous. The person who is jealous is not loving their neighbor as Jesus commanded. Alternately, the person who is boastful and braggadocio is not loving their neighbor either. The part that really stuck out to me was keeping records of wrongs (“thinks no evil” is what the King James Version says). It is hard to not keep a record of wrongs sometimes, but to truly love someone, we must let go of that record. We don’t need to rehearse the bad things done to us from the past over and over. That is not love. I have found that in my own experience, that keeps me from being free. The wise King Solomon said that it is to a man’s glory to overlook an offense (Proverbs 19:11). There is a time to confront in a Biblical way and there is a time to let go of the painful memories in order to love. You know, the other day I had a sort of epiphany, or revelation perhaps. I always wondered why Jesus knelt down and wrote in the sand when the pharisees accused the sinful woman of all of her sinful acts. Many scholars cannot come to agree on this. Here is what I think, and here is what came to me: when you write something in sand, it won’t stay long. It will only stay for perhaps a few hours, less if it’s windy and people walk on the sand. It could stay for a day, but probably not. In that region in Jesus’ day, by the sea, it was probably breezy. Have you been to the beach and written in the sand, only to find what you wrote gone a few hours later? I believe that Jesus wrote the woman’s offenses in the sand as the Pharisees were accusing her. When Jesus forgives us, the writing in the sand is erased. It’s like the offense was never even there. There’s no record. It wasn’t written with ink but with sand. That’s love. I’m sure the pharisees would have written the offenses in their books with ink. No, not Jesus. That’s overlooking offenses. Then he told the woman, “Go and sin no more”. Jesus told her the truth, which is also love (Ephesians 4:15). That is what I believe love does. Love also does not think only of oneself but thinks of others. The Bible says love never fails. And…it’s the greatest spiritual gift, ever! Love is better than the gift of prophecy and all other spiritual gifts. I have the gift of prophecy, but what God is showing me is that love is even better! I can have both. To have love is the highest calling. Often, in the church I see people clamoring for the best positions, or bragging about how gifted they are from God, or trying to out-do each other, etc. Wasn’t this happening in Corinth? What about love? Love does not brag about oneself. It is better to have love than any other gift. Paul said to honor one another above yourself (Romans 12:10). The spiritual gifts should be desired earnestly, but love is the highest gift. These are the things that I am learning about love. The Bible states there are many things that love is “not”. It’s becoming very easy for me to detect real love, and how I can truly love people with the true love that Jesus commanded. Love just doesn’t act a certain way. I am thankful to have this verse as a light for my path.