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Sunday, July 22, 2012

What does real love look like?

My dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ - of this we are sure - we all need an abundance of real love in our lives.  But do we really understand the qualities of perfect love; its beauty, power, value, and importance to God?

What is love?

Yes, love is a deep feeling - an emotion of strong affection and attachment.  It implies kindness, affection, patience, understanding, and compassion. Love can come from a husband or wife, a brother or sister, parents or grand-parents, or even a close friend.   And of course, as believers in Christ, we know that the greatest and most perfect love comes from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and from our Heavenly Father.

But love is so much more than a deep feeling: it is an action of our will.  We choose to love, or not love.  It is a choice we make many times each day.  Love is also the most powerful weapon and most perfect remedy we have; not only for ourselves but for a hurting world that desperately needs to see and receive it.

Let’s understand the qualities of love according to the scriptures.

One of the most beautiful passages on love comes from 1 Corinthians 13.   It says:

1 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8 Love never fails.  But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

From these scriptures we can understand more clearly what real love looks like; its beauty, its power, its value, and its importance to God.  And we must also understand that love is, first, a gift from GOD.  It is only after we receive it from Him that we are able to effectively model it and give it away to others. 

The love of Christ is the most perfect love we will ever see or experience in our lives.  As Christians, we should model Christ’s love for us as best we can in all of our relationships. Parents should love their children just like God loves Jesus, His beloved son.  Husbands should love their wives just like Jesus loves His bride (the Church).  Brothers and sisters should love one another just like Jesus loved his disciples. And we are commanded to love our neighbors as ourselves.

The world is filled with people who have material wealth and riches. Their bank accounts are full, but their souls are so very empty.  They are lonely, hurting and desperate for real love.  They feel rejected and wonder if there is anyone on earth who will ever love them or care about them.  And because they have never received this kind of love, they are unable to give it in return.  And so the cycle continues.

For those of us who have tasted the real love of God, we know that nothing else satisfies. This perfect love is an inheritance from the LORD.   We must value it and care for it.  It must be present in our everyday lives.  And we must share it.  We must proclaim the good news that Jesus loves us more than we can ever imagine!

We must let the world know that even as dirty as all of us are, He loves us just as we are at this very moment.  The only thing needed is to simply and honestly open our hearts to Him.  Only after receiving Him will any feelings of frustration, loneliness, hatred, rejection or suicide flee.  Jesus is the only answer, the only way. 

1 John 4:19 We love because he first loved us.

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