“Summer is for Lovers” or so the saying goes. I first met my wife during the summer. Maybe it was the humidity, or maybe it was the sweat stinging my eyes, we managed to fall in love that summer long ago. The summer romance is a staple of movies and media that try to capitalize on the season and desires of young people to get together.
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1Jn 4:7-8)
We know that “God is love” and that all true love must begin with God. If it is truly love, then it is from God. This love comes from a specific Greek word, “agapae”, which closely defined means “sacrificial love” or love which freely sacrifices itself for the sake of another without expecting reciprocation. This is the kind of love encouraged throughout the New Testament, and echoes the kind of Love which God expresses in the Old Testament, “hesed” or as it is often translated, “loving-kindness”. This should make us wonder if some of the things we “love” are truly worth the word we apply.
Some people love chocolate. I like to add peanut butter to that list. But neither chocolate, nor any food, can provide the kind of response required in love. Some love certain media figures or celebrities, though they will have no chance of ever meeting them or having those feelings reciprocated. We may adore and elevate nearly anything, but if there is no real response, can it really be love?
We must be careful to distinguish real love with its evil opposite, lust. Lust translates the Greek word “epithumia” and is often translated as “evil desire” or “covet”. Lust sees and wants. Love sees and desires a relationship. Lust takes for itself what it wants, without thinking about the other. Love gives and gives before the other gives back. Lust uses up and throws away when it is done, making even people disposable. Love values and upholds others, making them indispensable, even if no one else values them.
Lust is the beady eyes hovering over the computer screen downloading and viewing, demanding even new images of pornography to fill the eyes with pictures and the mind with fantasies without consequence.
Love is the elderly couple who long after the wrinkles and age has set in, still hold hands and gaze into each other’s eyes. Love is sitting at the bedside, seeing past the brokenness, the sickness and the age, and still being passionate for your mate. Love is watching your children slip into bad decisions, but still welcoming them home when their world has caved in. Love is still giving them enough room to work things out for themselves, being patient with them.
Love is in the God who sends His own Son, though all on earth are His enemies, and hate Him, to live and die for them, dying for their sins so that after His death, burial and resurrection, some would respond in faith.
God made us to love. He made us to look outside ourselves and to work to please others, especially God, in a self-sacrificial way. Jesus tells us:
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. (Joh 15:12-14)
Who do you truly love? Who is indispensable to you?