What True Love Is

I love romantic movies. I don’t know why, but I do enjoy them. Sure, I like action flicks, too, but for whatever reason, I got into romantic movies as a teenager and I enjoy watching them. Admittedly, though, they are about two hours of pure fantasy. Every single one of them is about “chemistry” and this sappy emotional thing we call “love.” But what we often call love and what is often referred to as love is not love. It’s an emotional response. It’s a feeling. But because we call it love we often make it out to be more important than it should be. That’s why we see marriages not lasting like they once did. That’s why we see folks rushing into relationships they shouldn’t. And that’s why we see other folks passing on relationships that would be healthy and beneficial to them, but since they don’t get that fluttery feeling in their stomach, they don’t think it’ll work. We talk a lot about how the world has misled us. How we’ve bought into its many lies. But one area we don’t talk so much about how we’ve bought into the lies of the world is in the definition of love. Let me show you from God’s Word:

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.

– 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, NKJV

This is true love. This is the love Christ demonstrates towards us. And this is the love we are to demonstrate towards everyone else. If this is the measure of how we’re supposed to love our brothers and sisters in Christ, how more so our beloved bride or husband? When marriages were arranged, couples were put together, feeling or not. They learned how to at least live with each other, but I believe many learned how to love one another. And I’m not saying that to cast a negative shadow on choosing one’s own mate. Marrying for love is a noble idea. But let’s make sure we understand what love is and what it isn’t. So when the chemical reaction, when the emotional feeling is gone, it doesn’t mean love is gone. Many a couple who didn’t start with that feeling have learned how to be in love. They’ve learned to embrace the truths God has revealed to us in this passage. Notice that the emotional feeling/chemical response isn’t given in this passage. When God talks about love, He never talks about something that is fleeting, that is short-lived, that will end. God’s love is something we can count on forever. If God is showing through us, then our love should bear a similar reassurance and quality to those around us. We may start a relationship with that wonderful feeling. But when, over time, the emotion fades away, we need to understand that love promises something more than a flutter in our stomachs. It promises a sacrificial union with our husband or wife that provides for us far more than an emotional high. We see it in older couples who have been married many years. They complete each other’s sentences. We can’t think of one without the other. They’ve learned that there is something more than just the feeling. There is something lasting. There is something truly great there where real passion, real love shines through. We’ve got to get past the feeling being everything. We’ve got to put emotion in its proper place.

This doesn’t just apply to whomever our mate happens to be. It should apply to everyone around us. Throughout this world there isn’t just a problem within marriages. There is a problem in families and former friendships, too. Emotional situations have led to hard feelings and damaged relationships. But love is supposed to see its way past those things. It “bears all things.” It “endures all things.” But along the lines pride, or something else, prevents us from forgiving and embracing the way love would have us do so. We allow the damaged relationships to continue, where they slowly wither away to nothing, or worse, we inflame the situations to damage the relationships even further. But this isn’t the way God would have us respond. This isn’t the way God would have us demonstrate what love really is. He has provided the model. He has demonstrated it through His own actions. Now it’s up to us to carry out in our own lives what He has taught us true love really is. It goes beyond emotion. It goes beyond feelings and “chemistry.” It’s simply a choice to model what we find in 1 Corinthians 13 because that is what true love is all about. And that is what the world needs to see in us.

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