Sunday, February 16, 2014

What Love Is (And Isn't)

I never stop learning what love is (and isn't). There have been so many times in my life where I felt like, "Hey, I get it!" only to discover that there is so much more to learn and experience. It's amazing when you realize that you just reached a whole new level of understanding! 

Learning to love (and be loved) is such an amazing gift! It helps one understand the pure, perfect, flawless love of God. Though, in order to do this, it's helpful to understand what love is and isn't. One does that by contemplating on the Word of God. God didn't just speak it; He demonstrated it. Love is action. Love is virtue and character. NEVER is it described as a "feeling". Of course, love can generate strong emotion, but those emotions aren't love itself. Emotions and feelings are fickle and varied. Someone that ACTS in love does so as a result of genuine character and virtue. 

Knowing this, I composed a sort of reference guide. I referred to it earlier this week as Chris and I were conversing in depth about what it means to love. I had actually compiled the guide last year in the midst of a difficult relationship I had had with someone who DIDN'T understand love at all. I showed it to Chris and remarked that he fit the bill so well and how glad I continue to be regarding the fact that we display genuine love, respect, and care for one another. I can't tell you how amazing it is to read through something and realize the fact that the man who SAYS he loves me really DOES because he's demonstrating it the way it was designed by God! 

Just like when I took this picture,
I was distracted from what I was doing by his goofiness;
but I love him. ;)
However, human love isn't perfect (hence the "fighting fair" part of the guide for how to act in love in the midst of conflict). In fact, even as I type this right now, I had to GENTLY remind Chris to give me a few minutes to type this blog (if we are on Skype as I'm trying to do this, he can be a little noisy and/or distracting while I'm trying to work lol). Because he loves me, he doesn't get offended by this. He is gracious, apologetic, cooperative, and patient. It helped that I approached him in a kind manner, but even if I had been a rude and snippy female, he's the type of man that would still treat me with kindness because that's just the kind of character and humility he has. The way he demonstrates love to me helps me to love him that much better (and reminds me of how kind and generous God is to me; whether I deserve it or not). 

Grace and peace to you, my friends! I hope that the following guide helps you as much as it continues to help me. I know that sometimes, we try to figure out whether or not someone loves us based on the advice of our culture, other people, past relationship comparisons, or who knows what. However, God's Word is the measure and the mirror that we should be using to figure that out. Only then will we truly understand how to love and be loved. Be infused! God bless you! 


1 Corinthians 13, John 15:13, 1 John 4:7-21, Galatians 5:22-23  
Love IS

God (He is love. We love him and others).
Fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness,self-control). 

Patient (long-suffering)
Forgiving (keeps no record of wrongs)
Sacrificing (even one's life) and puts others first

Love is NOT

Fruits of the sinful nature (sexual immorality, impurity, debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like - Galatians 5:19-21).

Angry/easily provoked

Fighting Fair

1. Truth, honesty, and communication. Expressing and listening to each other with open minds and hearts and doing so in love. Meaning, building up and not tearing down (Ephesians 4:29, 2 Corinthians 13:11, Hebrews 3:13). No name-calling and personal attacks. Any emotion should be expressed tactfully and respectfully without accusations/assumptions, judgement/condemnation, bad attitudes, and vocal/body language expressions that can wound as well. Appropriate breaks and constructive methods of dealing with anger should be used (like "time outs" and breaks for some down time). Additionally, while input and help from family/friends is often helpful and needed, it needs to be limited. Not everyone needs to know or needs to no everything (or know every instance). When they do, it's important to let them know when/how a conflict is resolved so that they know we're ok. 

2. No games. No "blame game", excuses, ultimatums, threats, or manipulation. It solves nothing and only creates more problems and wounding. Adam and Eve played the blame game, but it did nothing to help and there were still consequences (Genesis 3). 

3. Taking responsibility,ownership, and apologizing. "Do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy?" Choosing humility over pride and looking at one's own errors instead of the flaws of someone else (Proverbs 11:2, Proverbs 13:10, Proverbs 14:3, Proverbs 16:18, Ecclesiastes 7:8, Matthew 23:12, Ephesians 4:2, 1 Peter 5:5). We all have planks in our eyes so we shouldn't throw stones (Matthew 7:3-5, Luke 6:41-42, John 8:7 ). 

4. Compromises, solutions, resolutions. Both people have to be willing to sacrifice and be willing to come up with a solution to the problem; as well as resolve how to prevent that type of thing from happening again and repenting/doing better (2 Corinthians 7:9, Romans 2:4).

5. "Forgive and forget". Forgiving and moving on (and not dragging up past issues and mistakes into fresh conflict). Unforgiveness is a poison that will eat away at a relationship and breakdown intimacy. It's not always easy to forgive, but holding onto grudges is so much harder. It drains you of energy and is a load on your shoulders. Without forgiveness, restoration isn't possible; nor can we expect God to forgive us if we don't forgive others. The judgment and measure we use will also be measured to us (Matthew 6:15, Matthew 7:2, Luke 6:37). 

The most important thing to remember is that we can and will make mistakes. Relationships are tough and require a lot of grace, mercy, compassion, and forgiveness (sometimes a little more than we would like). No one is perfect or loves perfectly, but we will strive to be made more perfect in love and remember that true love covers a multitude of sins (Luke 17:4, Proverbs 10:12, 1 Peter 4:8).

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