This week in our message we took a simple word and realized how not so simple it really is! The word love is probably one of the most overused and yet misunderstood words in our language. I mean think about it. We can use the same word for how we feel about our spouse or significant other and for pizza, dogs, sports, cars, just about anything! Does it mean we think of them all the same? Does that mean we love our husband or wife the same way we love our car or our pets? Of course not! But how can we be a little more clear?
That’s the focus of this weeks’ message. Reframing the idea of love is a task we undertake in our message from this week. You can listen here:
Now let’s assume you listened to the message and know the difference between three key words for love: eros, philos and agape. You’ll know that some love is all me focused (eros) while other ways of love are mutually beneficial (philos) but the love talked about in the bible is totally selfless (agape). When we say I love you, we need to make sure we’re clear how we’re loving someone. Are we loving them selfishly or selflessly? But how can you tell if your love is something that’s self focused or other’s focused?
The bible describes love in 1 Corinthians 13 with two positive attributes: patience and kindness. These two positive characteristics of love are found throughout the bible in a variety of ways. But when we look at patience from a Biblical perspective it carries with it the meaning of long suffering. That means love goes the distance. It puts up with a lot and yet never keeps a record of the wrongs done to it. Real love is able to forget the pains inflicted on it. It’s able to separate hurt feelings from the reality of the moment. When love is long-suffering and kind it looks erases the negativity of the past and focuses on the wonderful opportunities of the present.
Love is a lot of things. But love can’t be true love and hold grudges, hate, belittle, or just go through the motions. Love is only love when it is willing to correct wrongs, hold accountable, encourage, uplift, accept, affirm, rebuke and so much more. Love isn’t just all touchy feely and tolerant. Actually tolerance isn’t even love. Love has to be willing to say hard things. It has to be willing to make tough calls. When love can’t do these things, then it’s likely a self-centered version of love that isn’t really love at all.
So how do you love? How do you receive love best? When you know how you receive love and how others feel it best then you’re better capable of showing the right kind of patient, kind, long-suffering love that God shows to us.