A strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties
Warm attachment, enthusiasm or devotion
Unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another
A person’s adoration of God
As I read these definitions, I attach different people, places and things to each. I love God. I love my husband. I love my children. I love my dog. I love to write. I really love food! All of these, I love differently. But most, I love conditionally. Food needs to be fresh and appealing. Writing needs to come easily. The dog needs to behave and not pee in the house. The conditions placed on my husband and children are less defined, but they affect how well and how frequently I show my love to them. Right or wrong, friendships and family relationships are largely based on conditions. What return will I get from my investment? It sounds harsh, but feelings are, well, liars. We allow them to dictate our actions and reactions. Our emotions trick us. Even amplify our circumstances to be greater or less than they actually are. Granted, our feelings indicate pleasure and pain and are imperative for our safety and wellbeing. We need to feel pain to avoid danger and pleasure to ensure nourishment and sustenance. But we should give less credence to emotions and more to trusting God when it comes to love. We expect unconditional love but do not give it. No human does. How many of us expect to be loved when we are moody, sarcastic, bitter, negative and unlovable? How many of us are willing to show love to others who are all of those things? It requires sacrifice and is not always reciprocated. Hmmm…does that remind you of anything?
God’s love is truly unconditional and requires only a response to His invitation. He loves you today and for eternity, despite your flaws, and even when you don’t give him the love back that he deserves. His love is deep and wide. (Ephesians 3:14-21) John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
So, as many of us celebrate Valentine’s Day this week, may we model the love of Jesus. Let’s be deliberate in our approach to our families and friends. Be intentional as you show your love for others based on their needs, not your own. Remember that we are all broken and need the love of Jesus and each other. Don’t just feel love. Do love. Live love. Be love.
And remember the greatest love of all is the love poured out on us by almighty God as He sent Jesus as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.