“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:5). If we love because we are commanded to love, is it truly love? Isn’t love “a many-splendored thing,” a rapturous mystery that springs from my heart, over which I have little if any control?
Not according to God’s Word, and not according to life either. Attraction springs up and disappears at its own whim, but not love. True love begins with a decision, I choose to love you. I choose to love you no matter how I feel or how you make me feel. I love you the way I have learned to love, the way God has loved me. No matter what, even at my worst, God sacrificed his best for me–”God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). God wills his best toward me, and I in turn will my best toward others. I love them as I love myself.
More than feeling and beyond choice, love is action, and often an act of sacrifice. “God so loved … that he gave” (John 3:16). Count the emotions in 1Corinthians 13:4-8, “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” I count one, maybe–irritable could be an emotion, and even that is what love is not, not what it is.
What love is is displayed by God toward me in his Son, Jesus Christ; and by me, in turn, toward God, presenting all of me, my heart, my soul, my might, to him. When I love God in this way, I will love those he loves, as well–my neighbors.
Heavenly Father, I am amazed at Your love. Your Son sacrificed for my sake. Your Son considering me and everyone else on this planet above Himself. He released His hold on Your presence, and emptied Himself of glory, and died. Shamefully died for my shame.
Thank You. You saved me, showed me what love looks like, and gave me the capacity to love others. If You had not first loved me, I would not even know what love looks like, because I was consumed with me first. But now, I too am learning to consider others before and above me. To love them as I love myself. What an amazing love.