How’s Your “Love Life”?

by Pastor Steven James

 

The love the Bible calls for is a love of substance — a love that you walk into and never walk out of.

Forty years of marriage. That’s what the Lord had so graciously allowed Debbie & me to celebrate this past December.

How can a marriage work for that long when started by two teenagers from broken homes with lots of odds stacked against them? As I once heard John Maxwell say, “For a marriage to work, it takes work!”

As two followers of Jesus who were “madly in love” with each other—we learned early in our marriage that love is more than emotions and attraction.

Yes—God has wired us to experience and enjoy deep emotions of “love” as a couple. But love is more than emotion. It is motion.

Yes, God has wired us to experience strong attractions of “love.” But love is more than attraction. It is action.

In fact, action is what gives love traction.

It’s because true love is built on motion and action that God can command us to love Him and love one another. (Matthew 22:36-40)

“Surface-level” love, that which is nothing more than intense emotion and attraction, can indeed be something that you “fall into” and “fall out of.”

It’s like the kindling used to make a fire: it only starts it—it isn’t made to sustain it. You can’t get much done with just kindling. A sustainable fire needs substantial pieces of wood.

In the same way, the love the Bible calls for is a love of substance—a love that you walk into and never walk out of.

God’s love is this way. He loved us and proved it by action: that of giving up His only Son for our good. (John 3:16) When we were the most unattractive, and not the least bit deserving, He gave His all for us out of love. (Romans 5:6-8)

Our love for others is based on God’s love for us: giving up ourselves for the good of others. (1 John 3:16)

True love is provable: love leaves evidence. God left a trail in Christ. We are to leave a trail as Christians.

Jesus said that if we loved Him, we would obey Him. (John 14:15) We aren’t to just feel all emotional about Him, or be attracted to Him: we are to move and act for Him!

The same thing is true towards others, whether they are our spouse, family members, friends, church family, etc. We aren’t to love just with words but with our walk. (1 John 3:18) Jesus set the bar high. We are to love others AS He loved us. (John 13:34-35) This kind of love, the love that Jesus proved towards us, is a love that only God’s grace can produce within us.

So what does true love, a love of substance, motion and action, “look” like? One place to look at is 1 Corinthians 13—often called the “love” chapter. After stressing the importance and impact of true love in vss. 1-3, Paul then describes love.

Love is patient, kind, not jealous, not a bragger, not rude, seeks to give, isn’t easily ticked off, doesn’t keep a record of wrongs; isn’t happy over what is sinful, but over what is right; it is always supportive, gives the benefit of the doubt, looks positively forward, and remains committed. No wonder Paul caps it all off with the statement that this kind of love will never lose its impact.

I’ve often heard that, just as we put our names in the “whosoever” places of John 3:16, we should put our names in before each description of love in that passage. May God’s grace enable us to express and experience true love: a love of motion and action (which then only intensifies the emotions and attraction)!

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