Everyone desires some form of love.
Maybe from friends. Maybe family. Maybe a spouse or future spouse.
But somewhere in the pursuit of love, our culture lost the meaning of real love and created their own cheap substitute.
This fake love is advertised as the real thing, and promises to satisfy. But it is rooted in selfishness. This leads to “feel-good”, but not necessarily faithful, relationships.
It’s simple: love people who have something to offer. Ignore or neglect those who don’t meet our standards.
Personally, an obvious sign that I’m embracing a false view of love is finding myself thinking things like this:
She’s so clingy! And when she’s around, my other friends leave. If I ignore her, hopefully she’ll take a hint.
They said nasty things about me, so I should be allowed to gossip about them.
I can’t help right now… I already have enough things to worry about.
If these types of thoughts are going through our mind, love is clearly lacking.
God calls us to a higher standard of love. Real love.
We are told “greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” And this is exactly what Jesus did for us (John 15:13).
And He wants us to follow His example. In fact, He tells us to “love one another, even as I have loved you” (John 13:34). Now, we probably won’t ever die for a friend, but we can lay down our life in another way: by sacrificing our own agenda, wishes, and even comfort zones, for other people.
So what should that look like in our lives?
- Choosing to unconditionally love at all times. (Proverbs 17:17)
- Reaching out to people the rest of the world would neglect. Even if they can never give us anything in return. Giving to the least, without wondering what they will give in return. (Luke 14:12-14).
- Bravely giving faith-filled counsel, even when it might cost us a friendship. (Proverbs 27:6)
- Avoiding gossip and slander at all costs. Because trying to put someone down is the exact opposite of love. (Proverbs 16:28, Proverbs 17:9)
- And of course, the characteristics laid out in 1 Corinthians 13.
Real love is selfless. Consistently sacrificial and deeply committed. Anything else is an incomplete view.
Now, loving like this is so hard. It goes completely against what I naturally want to do, and doesn’t always make sense. But even if we never fully reach it, this should be the goal we’re constantly working towards.
So this Valentine’s season, when we’re surrounded by our culture’s mixed interpretations of love, let’s abandon the self-satisfying kind. Let’s pursue the higher standard that God demonstrates and calls us to: Real love.