As a parent of three kids I find myself constantly (and at times with little success) encouraging one of our kids to love each other. The truth of the matter though is that loving another human being sounds great, is easy to do when it means sending a Hallmark card or flowers, and is the theme of about eighty percent of the songs on the radio today… BUT… It’s really difficult to do. It’s one thing to write about it, to sing about it, to blog about it, to know about it, to teach about it, to instruct your kids to do it, and then… It’s radically difficult to do!
I came across a definition of love years ago that reminded me of why it’s so hard to love….why it’s something that is easy in theory and difficult in practice. In his wonderful and challenging book on marriage, What Did You Expect?, Paul Tripp writes this:
“Love is willing self-sacrifice for the good of another that does not require reciprocation or that the person being loved is deserving”
When I read those words it was like the engine of my car just stopped immediately! It finally made sense – WHY – loving another human being is so hard. I quickly realized that the “working definition” that I have lived most of my life regarding “love” was not love at all! Rather it was a romanticized, Hollywood, ultimately self-serving definition that read more like this:
“Love is me liking the outcome of everything that involves my interaction with you and if my agenda is crossed, you’d better watch out.” ~Ryan Snow
What if you and I went to the default settings of our lives and re-programmed our minds and our hearts to the definition of what love truly is?! What if, like Jesus himself, our definition was birthed out of a place of knowing that we’ve already been radically and sacrificially loved so we are now able to love in the this kind of “willing self-sacrificing way for the good of another”?!
By all means teach about love, speak about love, blog about love, write about love, instruct your kids to love, but don’t miss the first and most important AND challenging step about love: actually loving! Let’s be the type of friends, co-workers, spouses, parents, small group members, and followers of Jesus who LOVE!
1 John 3: We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters…Let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.