On this day of St. Valentine’s, many people are out scrambling to find the perfect gift, the perfect bouquet of roses and the perfect card to express how they feel. Love has been lost in this holiday of love. I was inspired to write this article about love when I saw a friend’s post on Facebook. It was simple. She wrote, “love is…a joke.” I was so sad because love isn’t a joke. It is the basis of who we are. We were created in God’s image and God in His nature is love. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 lists the actions that love is. Love is patient, kind and does not boast or envy. It is not proud or dishonors others. Love is not self-seeking and not easily angered. It keeps no record of wrongs and does not delight in evil. Love rejoices with the truth. Love protects. Love trusts. Love hopes. Love perseveres and Love never fails. These verses describes God’s love for us. He loves us despite of who we are and what we have done. He loves us so much that He sent His Son, Jesus to die for our sins that we may enjoy eternal life with Him (John 3:16). We don’t have to be perfect because He will change us. He loves us that much that He created us in His image and He wants us to return to that image.
In the Greek language, which the New Testament is written, has four words for love. Each word is a different type of expression. Love between a husband and a wife has all four types of love. First, Eros is physical love or sexual attraction. It’s the type of love that is expression between lovers. Second, Philia is a mental love. It’s a love between family, friends and lovers. It’s a love that you enjoy spending time with those individuals. Third, Storge is “affection.” Its love that acceptance despite the situation or the flaw of the individual. This love is loving a person despite his or her flaws. Lastly, Agape is a spiritual love. The true unconditional love that is described in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. True love has all four types of love.
One of the reasons that love may be seen as a joke to some is that we have been taught that love is conditional. Love is performance based. “Since he didn’t do X, Y and Z, then he must not love me.” We’ve been taught that love needs to fulfill our needs. Love isn’t there to do a job. It’s there to be there. It just is. We have allowed Love to lose its honor, integrity, and trust. We have learned to substitute fake love because we have lost sight of what true love looks like. But we still search, knowing that true love does exist. This is illustrated in the Foreigner song “I want to know what love is” (1984):
“In my life, there’s been heartache and pain. I don’t know if I can face it again
Can’t stop now, I’ve travelled so far, to change this lonely life
I wanna to know what love is. I want you to show me
I wanna feel what love is. I know you can show me”
We search for examples of love. When love is waiting for us. God is waiting to show us love. God is here to show us a love that is honorable, trustworthy, and has integrity. And when we allow Him to do so, He’ll bring people in our lives who will be the living examples of His Love.
I know this is possible because God has sent a love in my life that is all that He designed it to be. My husband, Joe, and I have been married for 5 years this July and we are still amazed on how far we’ve come when so many others around us have fallen apart. We know it is simply because we put God first in our relationship. Our unity ceremony in our wedding was the Cord of Three Strands from Ecclesiastes 4:12, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not easily broken.” Right from the start, Joe and I made a commitment to put God first in our relationship and He has blessed us as we continue to abide in Him and look to Him for guidance. Because there are times when Joe and I are angry at each other. We get frustrated. We get annoyed. But we always are able to come back together and talk through whatever the situation may be. Joe and I have faced some tough and painful situations in our short marriage. Each trial only brings us closer to God and God brings us closer to each other. We honor each with a deep respect that every decision is discussed and each person’s point of view is heard. We can come to a compromise. We are honest with each other and we trust each other.
Love is no joke. Love is real when you allow yourself to be open and vulnerable.
All verses are from the New International Version (NIV)
Special thanks to Pastor Joel Pagett of Reliance Community Church for his moving sermon
“God is Love” February 9, 2014