live a life filled with love, one word, GIVEImitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God. (Eph 5:1-2 NLT – emphasis mine)

Live a life filled with love.

Doesn’t that sound great!  Many people pursue this idea – many books are written and movies created around the idea of our life filled with love – usually a romantic kind of love.  But I don’t think this is what Paul was thinking when he wrote to the Ephesians, and I don’t think it is the type of love God is talking about – in fact the rest of the verse gives us an idea of God’s perspective on love: that it is a sacrifice – and yet pleases God.

I’ve been reading “A Lifelong Love” by Gary Thomas and nearly every chapter has me thinking about my marriage, and how I live that out.  But marriage is only one sphere in my life where I am challenged to give love.  These thoughts today (about giving love) is heavily influenced by my reading this book.  I highly recommend it.

I particularly like his definition of love – Love is a disposition to do what is best for the other, out of the inner compulsion from the Holy Spirit, to serve this person’s best interests. (Gary Thomas)

Three keys in this definition for me – but it starts from the end of this definition

  1. Love is to serve another’s best interests. Love is about another person, not me, not what I feel, or what I get in return.  It is about them.
  2. The Holy Spirit will prompt me to love this way – am I prepared to listen and change my choices?
  3. Loving this way becomes the normal. I am reminded: I am a new creation, a new heart – a new motivation, a new desire, a new belief system, a new way of living. Loving the way God loves is to be the new way I love.

Loving this way is not about putting other people first – but making it about them.

It is very challenging.  Can I give love like that?  Can I give love like that to God?  To my husband?  To my children?  To my family, friends and even acquaintances?  What about the people I come across down the street?

What does that actually look like?

1 Corinthians 13 is well known as the passage in the Bible that describes love.  But have we become so familiar with it that we glaze over when we start thinking about it.  As I read this passage, I have tried to expand what each description of love looks like:

Love is patient – Patience is accepting a person or situation for what it is without putting an expectation on them/it to change.  Patience is about accepting a person for where they are at.  Walking with them, rather than dragging them to where you want them to be.  Patience can be the answer instead of frustration, anger, annoyance.  Patience takes away the silent jesting mockery of rolling the eyes, snide remarks, or digs at a person.

Love is kind – Synonyms for kind are – caring, sympathetic, gentle, thoughtful, and considerate.

Love is not jealous – The green-eyed monster stops us from being able to love. Whether we are coveting their material possessions, or envious of their skills and abilities, or begrudging of their lifestyle choices – love isn’t jealous, or focused on, what they have, but on what they need.

Love does not brag and is not arrogant.  When love is about the other person, it doesn’t matter about your credentials, about your history, about your expertise – we can use those things to love another person, but as soon as we stand on those things we become arrogant, and it becomes about us – not them.

Love does not act unbecomingly – Love is not rude is how I used to say this to my kids.

Love does not seek its own –When we manipulate situations to get ourselves in a good light or in the right place for someone to do something good for us – that is manipulation, seeking our own best interests.  When we remind people of the good things we’ve done – that is manipulation, thinking about ourselves.  When we get upset when we don’t receive due praise – that is looking out for our best interests.  None of this is living a life of love.

Love is not provoked – I read somewhere that love is to be like shock absorbers – because of love we can take the rude, unkind, selfish, demanding things that come our way – not by being a martyr or putting up with abuse, but by not retaliating in kind.  Love is not taking offense.  Sometimes love for another person does require tough actions – but not out of anger or retaliation.

 Love does not take into account a wrong suffered –Love does not react out of past hurt. Love offers forgiveness, and doesn’t keep a tally.

Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness but rejoices with the truth – This reminder to love cuts down the finger pointing – YOU were wrong, YOU need to apologise and reminds me to look at the truth – I have been forgiven so much by a loving, gracious God – I need to do the same!  I need to focus on God’s truth, God’s perspective, God’s Word and rejoice in the life that it brings.

Love bears all things – The Bible calls us to bear one another’s burdens… What are people’s burdens?  I took a side step here to consider what are my burdens, in the likelihood that those things are other people’s burdens as well:  my struggles, weaknesses, the things that make me sad.  Love would have me care about the struggles, weaknesses, things that make other people sad, and help them in any way to make that burden lighter.

Love believes all things and hopes all things – Love sees the best in a person – sees them as God made them, sees them as a person Jesus loved and died for.

Love endures all things – To endure something means we stick with it – it doesn’t give up.  The word gracious comes to mind – love even when there is no change in a person because of your love.

Love never fails – When we read this we tend to think that love will change a person.  But that is coming from a mindset, it’s subtle, but it is there – that our love will change a person, and we likely mean, it will change a person who will love me, who will be easier to love.  But that is selfish – looking for a benefit for me, by loving this person – eventually.

If we read this last description of love with the eyes of the definition I started with it starts to look different.  Let’s remind ourselves of that definition:

Love is a disposition to do what is best for the other, out of the inner compulsion from the Holy Spirit, to serve this person’s best interests.

If we love, in all these different ways, as describe in 1 Corinthians 13, then that love will always serve another person’s best interests.  Then they will be loved.

 

One word GiveThis is part of my One Word 2015 series.  My one word is: Give.  My journey so far:

 

 

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