When I think about the word "love", an old song pops into my head..."What is love? Baby don't hurt me, don't hurt me, no more...Oh, I don't know why you don't care, I give you my love but you're not there...I don't know what is right or what is wrong...gimme a sign...What is love?"
There are two ways we can try to understand love. Our way or God's way. In my fruits of the Spirit journey, there are a few things I am learning about love:#1. Love is an act of the will. It is work and it demands constant choice and effort. My training ground in love has come from being a mother. I have to make a conscious choice every day, several times a day to love my boys regardless of how they are treating me. There are many times that my boys are so sweet to me. They tell me they love me, that I am pretty, that I am a good cook. They run over and hug or kiss me just because they want to. In those moments it is easy to love them because I feel like loving them. But the rest of life is filled with constant whining, arguing, complaining, ungratefulness. In those moments, regardless of my feelings for them, what will I choose? Will I give in to my emotions, or will I choose to show them God's love? Will I push them away, ignore them, or use hurtful words towards them? Or will I serve them, continue to help them, keeping a kind attitude? God's love shows up when we are exhausted, when we think we have nothing left to give. It makes a choice to go home to your family and serve them, no matter what kind of day you've had. This is not easy, but it can be done.
#2. I need God's grace to give it. By myself I can be a nice person for a little while, but in the nitty gritty of life and who I am, I am utterly selfish, rude, proud, not caring about showing love. I am more concerned about my agenda, my desires, my will, my mood, my emotions. The only way I can give real love is to get it from God, first by learning what it is through his Word and in prayer by letting him show his love to me.
#3. Love loves the unlovely. Jesus says to love our enemies, show good to them, and pray for those who hurt us. This is very hard when someone is truly hurting or bothering us. For me, there are days that I feel like my kids are my enemies. Not that I see them as my enemies, but that they see me as theirs. There are days when it feels like they are against everything I say and do. There are days when they seem very unlovely to me. They irritate and bother me, they are difficult to deal with and be around. I'm sure you can apply this to many other relationships in your life (spouse, boss, co-workers, parents, siblings, etc). The way Jesus says to think about and treat those kinds of people in our lives is to show them love.
How can he ask this of us? Because in reality it is us. We are the unlovely, ungrateful, selfish, rebellious ones he loved and chose to die for, regardless of his physical pain level and emotional state. The Bible says he was in agony before going to die on the cross. No doubt he had to choose to go through the unimaginable pain his body went through to show us love.
So let's gauge ourselves according to God's view of love. How well do you love? How you treat those who are closest to you, those who you live life with (your neighbor, roommate, co-workers, and of course your dear family). How would they say you treat them?