FROM THE PASTOR
It seems to me that we have all been conditioned to think of love only as an emotion. The people around us repeatedly fall into and out of love. We love someone when she does nice things to us and hate him when he is unkind. It seems that the only advice experts offer to help people stay in love today is to try to stir up emotions. They encourage us to do something to make us “fall in love” again.
I believe this insistence on treating love as an emotion is a major contributor to many of the ills which plague us. For example, take our massive cultural instability. Divorce, often justified by, “We just don’t love each other any more,” is only one part of the big problem. One can only guess how many lesser relationships are severed because “The feelings are just not there anymore”. If we don’t feel good about someone, an emotional definition of love leaves no grounds on which we can still love him. The multiplying of weak relationships contributes to widespread instability
Another example of the fallout of viewing love as an emotion is the great cloud of insecurity which hangs over our population. It is not hard to see why instability and insecurity travel together. If you must keep me feeling good about you so that I will love you, then you live in emotional bondage. You become a slave to my emotions. You know that if my feelings slip, you will be rejected. This breeds great insecurity because we know from personal experience that emotions are very unstable.
In addition, I believe that confusion between the emotion called love and feelings of erotic attraction contributes to the great sexual disaster we are witnessing. The only justification needed for adultery, fornication, or any kind of sinful and dangerous sexual behavior is, “We’re in love.” When love is reduced to a feeling, it quickly deteriorates to the by-product of surging hormones.
So where do we find an answer to this problem? We will find it in a correct definition of love. I’m sure you already know where we go to look for that. We must turn to the Scriptures and let them tell us about love. Let me direct your attention to just one verse in the great love chapter in I Corinthians. “(Love) bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (13:7 NASB) In thise inspired statement we find four important facts about love.
“Love bears all things” teaches us that true love is an antidote to impatience. Twice the Apostle Paul uses the word translated “bears” to describe a situation of doubt and uncertainty in his ministry. “When I could bear it no longer, I...” Every relationship involves repeated periods of doubt and uncertainty. Love counteracts the feelings of impatience which can cause us to do foolish and damaging deeds at these times. It keeps us from forcing an issue too quickly. It gives time for real issues to be discovered and addressed.
“Love believes all things” teaches us that true love gives the benefit of the doubt. God does not call us to be gullible. Stupidity is never praised as a virtue. Yet, we are encouraged to look for the best in those we love. We should try to see any possible good intentions in what they choose to do. Life is full of judgment calls. Love believes the best about those who make them.
“Love hopes all things” teaches us that true love looks beyond what is and sees what could be. It doesn’t become demoralized by the present situation. It keeps on expecting the best. When this kind of love is missing, relationships sour and become brittle. Hoping love keeps on striving through the tough times of a relationship. It looks past the hard dry days and latches onto an image of life and joy.
“Love endures all things” teaches us that true love doesn’t cut and run. It remains under the pressure of life. That is the basic meaning of the Greek word translated “endures”. God’s kind of love hangs in there in the toughest situation. This is only to be expected when it bears all things, believes all things and hopes all things.
This is just a small sampling of God’s definition of love. Yet it is enough to show us that real love stands guard against the destructive emotions which can sweep through any life. Yes, love involves strong emotions. But, at heart, it is a covenant commitment which can grow into a character trait. This love does not rise and fall in response to circumstances,
God shows his love by keeping his promises. He makes a commitment and keeps it through the emotional tides of relationship. We will become more like him when we do the same thing.