Love, for me, has always been a strange word. It’s very simple in its structure and not very interesting in the way it sounds, and yet this simple word holds so much weight. We all know that love is an important thing, a life-changing thing. And yet it has been thrown around until it has been left empty.
I love chocolate, I love this boy, I love my mom, I love that selfie, I love God.
To each of us, what we love holds a certain weight to us. No one else can understand it because there is only one English word for it. So our love is only ours to know and decide. There’s something special about that.
I want you to think about what love means to you.
Love is Not a Sin
God tells us to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength and with all your mind.” (Luke 10:27 NIV), and to “love one another. As I have loved you, love one another.” (John 13:35 NIV).
Loving is not a sin. But when we start loving something more than God, it becomes an idol in our lives. When we start seeking other things to fill our hearts, instead of allowing God to be enough for us, we stop trusting that God will sustain us. We lose our hope in God and His ability to be everything that we need. That’s when it becomes a sin. God wants us to love things and love people. It’s how He created us. Loving in addition to God is a wonderful thing; it’s when we start loving those things instead of God that we make it idolatrous.
Love Can Be an Idol
I think that there are two ways in which love can become an idol in our lives.
1. Loving others
2. Loving ourselves
Let me explain.
When we seek love from someone else, we often expect them to fill some sort of gap in our lives. We want unconditional love from them and we want them to view us as faultless. All of these views on love are sinful. Humans are not capable of fixing other humans emotionally. God is the heart changer.
“Create in me a pure heart, O God…” – Psalm 51:10 (NIV)
God wants us to grow to be more like Him, which we can do with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
All human love is conditional. I know that you don’t want to believe that it’s true. We all do. But no person in their right mind could overlook everything that we do wrong. God can! And He can do this because Jesus’ righteousness is given to us so that when God looks at us, He sees His own goodness.
The other thing that is fundamentally sinful about this seeking of love, is that we see love as something we get given instead of something we give. Love is given to us by God so that we can love others in favor of God, not in favor of the people.
Loving ourselves is complicated. You pretty much either love yourself too much, or you love yourself too little. Both of these are sinful. Loving yourself too much is arrogance and pride. The problem with this is that you fail to see your faults and refuse to acknowledge that you too are a sinner in desperate need of Christ.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” – Romans 3:23 (NIV)
And then there is the issue of loving yourself too little. When you begin to belittle yourself, in hatred or eating disorders or self loathing, you lose sight of the wonderful creation that God made you to be.
In 1st Corinthians, Paul describes the earthly and heavenly bodies. Verse 40-41 says, “But the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.” (NIV)
You are splendor in need of Christ. God loves you. He loves you enough to die for you just as you are.
What Love is
I’m about to type a very well-known verse. But I’m going to break it up for you, because I want you to read it slowly and with a new understanding.
“Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It does not dishonour others,
it is not self-seeking
it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.”
– 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (NIV)
Now I want you to go through that as almost a checklist and think of each one you have been unable to do. Now, do the same exercise, but think of the person who loves you most. How many of those ‘boxes’ have they failed to tick?
That’s because this is not a checklist to see how good we are at loving. Or a checklist to see how much our loved ones mess up. This is God’s love.
God is love and God loves us. I think that we often fail to appreciate how much God loves us.
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8 (NIV)
We’re loved by the Creator of existence! We’re loved by Him with a 1st Corinthians 4 kind of love.
So, into the world we go: receiving love from God, giving love to others, and loving God with every bit of ourselves.
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
– 1 Corinthians 13:13 (NIV)
~ Cheylin Blore, Guest Author