How To Choose To Love
Have you ever heard a love song and thought about how it made you feel? My husband and I have several different songs we like to listen to that put us in (clears throat) a romantic mood. I know, I know…who wants to hear that, right?
Well, the reason I feel Sade’s “Your Love Is King” puts us “in that mood” is because the song has a history for my husband and I. It was one of the first love songs we would listen to that perfectly described how my husband and I felt about one another.
Unfortunately, when played at the “wrong time” like in the middle of an argument, this song’s power to move us won’t have the same effect. Once the “feeling” is gone, some people actually feel as if they “fell” out of love.
As Christians, we know that love isn’t just what we feel.
People have bought the lie that how they feel in the moment is true. The problem is we can feel empty inside, drained, hopeless and confused but love can still exist.
We know that God IS love. It is through Him alone that we can even understand love and how to love one another.
Displaying God’s love is a choice.
Everyday, I choose to love my husband, my children and others even when I don’t “feel” like it.
Colossians 2:8 says,
“Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ.”
In other words, don’t be duped into following a definition of love shoved at us by the world. In order to correct our perception, we must return to the true definition of love.
"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” John 13:34
It’s impossible through human reasoning to “feel” love for God or others. It is through agape love — God’s love — that we can follow His command to love.
This Greek word, agape, means “goodwill, benevolence, and willful delight in the object of love… Agape love involves faithfulness, commitment, and an act of the will” (agape love).
Biblically, love is a noun and a verb. 1 John 4:8 says that God is love. It is His character, His very nature. In other words, everything that God does flows through His character of love. Because of His love nature, He demonstrates that love is action (John 3:16; Romans 5:8).
God willfully chose to demonstrate His love toward us at our lowest point. Scripture says that there is none righteous (Romans 3:10) and that all of us have sinned and fallen short of God’s standard (Romans 3:23).
Sometimes, loving the way Jesus showed us is easier said than done.
I recently had an occasion to learn this rather difficult lesson - for the umpteenth time.
There have been many times in the life of our ministry when people come and go. It’s hard to see good people move on. Sometimes, they leave because they are disgruntled for one reason or another. It’s in those moments when it’s hardest for me to choose to show love when they talk about and malign you. What it leaves behind is a gaping wound in the heart.
The problem is most people don’t know this side of the ministry line. I’ve watched my husband sow into people who would, time and again, take his help only to disregard it.
Yes, it’s a hard-knock life. (Just kidding.)
Honestly, if it wasn’t for the love of the Lord, we would have thrown in the towel a long time ago. But we don’t do what we do for others. Yes, we want to help others but it’s so much more than that. I want to see people grow in their faith but people must WANT to grow. No one can make them.
It’s in those moments that I choose to love.
In this very moment of hurtful feelings, I texted my husband these verses:
“Love should be shown without pretending. Hate evil, and hold on to what is good. Love each other like the members of your family. Be the best at showing honor to each other. Don’t hesitate to be enthusiastic—be on fire in the Spirit as you serve the Lord! Be happy in your hope, stand your ground when you’re in trouble, and devote yourselves to prayer. Bless people who harass you—bless and don’t curse them. Don’t pay back anyone for their evil actions with evil actions, but show respect for what everyone else believes is good. If possible, to the best of your ability, live at peace with all people. Don’t be defeated by evil, but defeat evil with good.”
Romans 12:9-12, 14, 17-18, 21
One of the biggest lessons you can learn in these moments is this–make sure your heart is clean. Hurt is real but what you do with that hurt is another matter. Don’t allow the enemy of your soul to keep you in a place where the hurt festers.
I’ve been trained in wound care with the elderly. Bedsores can be a serious problem among frail, older adults. They can be related to the quality of care the person receives. There are four stages of bedsores. It’s part of my job to inspect and evaluate if the sore is progressing.
With that in mind, in order for a bedsore to progress into a Stage 4 wound, it could occur because of neglect. In the same way, the enemy of our soul wants to have you ignore the wounds you’ve suffered. He wants you to progress into stages that would have you depressed and in pain. It’s our job and the Holy Spirit who prompts you to accept healing and close those wounds.
Don’t let a heart-wound fester. Address it early. Head it off at the pass so-to-speak.
So in that moment I chose to love and not become bitter when I was presented with the hurtful situation. As I look back on each situation that’s happened over the years, I ask myself: “Did I choose to love and did I make it a point to display Jesus’ character?”
I chose it at that moment and I will continue to choose it everyday.
As soon as it presents itself, I ask the Holy Spirit to help you forgive and replace those feelings of hurt with His love.
It’s such freedom.
I can’t help but think about when Jesus hung on the cross. He said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.” Luke 23:34
Another way to choose to love is by recognizing how Jesus served.
“When [Jesus] had washed their feet and put on His outer garments and resumed His place, he said to them, ‘Do you understand what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet.’” John 13:12-14 (ESV)
Jesus didn’t just talk-the-talk; he walked- the-walk. Jesus washed his disciples’ feet, putting Himself in the place of a servant. He did this to set the example that they (and we) should follow. Just think…He had to have known that most of them would desert Him