This month, people worldwide will celebrate love, or at least some version of love, on Valentine’s Day. It’s estimated that Americans will spend $26 billion dollars¹ this February 14 to communicate their love for their significant other. I remember those early days when Pam and I started dating. I didn’t have much money, but what money I did have, I wanted to spend it on her. So much so that I sold my car and my motorcycle to buy her an engagement ring. I went for several months borrowing my parent’s moped just so I could get groceries and have some means of transportation (other than walking). Oh, the things we’ll do for the one we love.
Although celebrating Valentine’s Day is fine, as Jesus’ followers, we must be diligent to not adopt the world’s definition of love. That word has been watered down to mean just about anything. We love ice cream, and we love sunsets. We love walks on the beach, and we love fishing. I’ve even heard people say they love the smell of skunk!
The world loosely defines love as an emotion. Like our other emotions, they ebb and flow based on the conditions and circumstances surrounding us. But love is not an emotion. 1 John 4:16 tells us that GOD IS LOVE. He is love personified–Love IS God. And since He never changes (Malachi 3:6), then Love never changes. True biblical Love never waivers, wanes, changes, or fades. Since God is the Alpha and Omega, the One who has always been, is, and forever shall be, then Love has always been, is, and forever shall be. Love is faithful and consistent. Love is eternal.
Second, true biblical Love is a commitment to prefer others above yourself for their benefit. John 3:16 tells us that God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son so that those who believe in Him wouldn’t perish but have everlasting life. Father God, His Son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are a Triune being, meaning they are Three in One. Although they are three separate beings, they are also one in unity. This is one of the greatest mysteries, but that means when Father God gave His Son, Jesus, He was actually giving Himself for our benefit.
We see this echoed in John 15:13, where it says from the NLT, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Now, at a quick glance, that scripture would seem to say that we must die to demonstrate the highest kind of Love, but that’s inaccurate. Jesus already demonstrated that great Love when He went to the cross on mankind’s behalf. Although we don’t have to physically die to demonstrate the God kind of Love, we do have to die to ourselves. When you look at the word life in the original Greek, it means psyche, which does mean breath of life but also means the soul or the seat of your feelings, desires, affections, and aversions. The highest form of Love we can demonstrate to those around us is the willingness to prefer them above ourselves. To lay down our feelings, desires, perspectives, opinions, and plans and choose to put them first place in life. That’s the God kind of Love.
When we choose to live this way, not only does it make everything and everyone around us better, but it also empowers our faith. Galatians 5:6 tells us that our faith works by Love. Operating in a lifestyle of biblical Love powers our faith so that we can receive victory over every challenge that comes our way. 1 John 5:4 tells us that faith is the victory that overcomes the world. So if it takes faith to overcome the world’s challenges and our faith is powered by Love, then how we choose to love others plays a significant role in our experiencing victory on this side of Heaven. Can you see the importance of learning to prefer others and put them first? Love and faith work together hand in hand to produce the victory we all desire when challenges arise.
So this February and every month moving forward, let’s choose to focus on Love Himself and purpose to demonstrate Love as He does–by preferring others and putting them ahead of ourselves. Let’s make this our new lifestyle.
We celebrate the perfect example of this in March as we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus.
“For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross”Hebrews 12:2 (NIV)
You are the joy He was focused on when He took all your sins and paid the price for you so you could have eternal life. He could have gotten Himself off of that cross, but He preferred you above Himself.
Let’s use Him as our example and choose to love others as He loves us.
Not only will we experience more victory, but when we choose to consistently demonstrate God’s kind of Love, He is faithful to surround us with others who will prefer us above themselves so we can benefit. The more people that live this way, the better the world will be, and it almost gives us a glimpse of what Heaven is like.