I thought I knew what I believed. After listening to His words, I was not sure anymore. Though I tried to dismiss His teaching, I just couldn’t. And then there were the miracles He continued to perform.
Unable to take it any longer, I decided to visit Him under the cover of night. I knew I was taking a big risk by visiting Him but I did it anyway. I simply needed answers to my questions! The risk was worth the reward! Though He spoke many things that I did not understand that night, there was a particular statement He made that struck me. It was His statement about love. He said: For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes Him will not perish but have everlasting life.
I thought more about His words as I walked home that night.
For God so loved the world: The word world stuck with me. Why did God love the world? What did the world do to deserve such love? Shouldn’t He punish the world? As these thoughts ran through my head, I had an epiphany. Love is not a reward but a gift. It is based solely on the heart of the giver and not the performance of the receiver. While a reward can be earned, a gift by definition cannot be earned…it can only be received. I realized that if someone has to deserve my love, then it is not love at all. I could not escape this truth: My ability to love depends solely on the condition of my heart.
That He gave His only begotten Son: This made me realize that love takes action. Love just doesn’t talk about meeting a need, it does something to meet the need. Furthermore, love positions itself to give rather than receive. And it is not just looking to give just anything, it is looking to give its very best. This is what God did concerning His Son — He gave the word His best. Therefore, I should give my best if I truly have love in my heart. Love gives its very best to meet the needs of those who are not deserving.
This really made me think about how I love those in my care. Do I treat them differently depending on their behavior? Do I always give my best no matter what?
That whosoever believes Him: That He used whosoever told me that not everybody accepts love. Though I selflessly sacrifice to meet the needs of others does not mean that my love will be accepted! This was a hard pill to swallow. It showed me that love does not expect a reward for its actions. It also showed me that love is not always a bed of roses. It can involve degrees of disappointment and pain. People may question my motivation for choosing to love them. They might even reject it outright. Yet I should love them anyway. No bed of roses at all.
Will not perish but have everlasting life: This part was beautiful for me. It warmed my heart to know that love succeeds in the end. So, though I might go through pain of rejection, the sacrifice will be worth it in the end. Love not only saves but it has a long-lasting effect in the lives of those who receive it.
By the time I got home, I had come up with two definitions for love. First, love is selfless sacrifice to serve and meet the needs of others. Second, love is determined action to lift people up and give them the best life possible according to our capability.
When I got home, I told my wife I loved her. This time I knew what I was saying and purposed in my heart to show her. Now I want you to consider…do you really love? Are you really in love?
My Relationship Lessons
- Love is not about getting your needs met first, it is first about meeting the needs of your partner
- When you say ‘I love you’, you should mean ‘I selflessly sacrifice to serve you
- Love is a not a feeling, love is an action
- Love is a gift given based on the heat of the giver and not a reward given based on the performance of the receiver
- Love is a committed expression to others of the love we have received from God