In Self Love Defined, I stated that love was defined by 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. This is an adequate definition of love, but it’s an internal love, focused on characteristics that exemplify love in the world. However, the love defined let out how it looks in action. Verses 4-8 talk in-depth about the characteristics of being friendly, humble, patient, kind, meek, polite, modest, forgiving, calm, benevolent, and good. I can be all of those things, but that doesn’t mean I love.
I can act polite but deep inside I can hate every moment of it. I can say I forgive but inside my heart is a rock, frozen in time due to a mishap long gone. I can outwardly show every characteristic of Jesus Christ, but inside still be unhappy, sorrowful, and paranoid. Actions don’t always align with words.
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.1 Corinthians 13:1-3
Love is authentic. A lot of people believe, “Fake it until you make it” but that’s a dangerous lie. You cannot fake love. How many people have lied to themselves every morning when they wake up saying that they are happy and still go to bed depressed each night? How many people have done the mystical math to convince themselves of a perfect relationship or marriage and it rings hollow to everyone they know? We can post pictures of wonderful self-love but eventually, the varnish quickly fades away.
Love requires a recognition of God’s truth to thrive and be genuine. Your love will eventually fail if it is based on falsehoods. Even self-affirmations require an acknowledgment that the negative thoughts you had about yourself were lies. Affirmations are nothing more than confirmations of God’s truth. Eventually, you realize that God’s love doesn’t actually involve you more than existing. Nothing you can say or do will change God’s love and that is the same for others. So, what examples of God’s love do we have?
But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. “Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the LORD do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me.Ruth 1:16-17
Ruth gives an amazing example of love. In this scene, Ruth is responding to her “former” mother-in-law’s attempt to send her away to her home country to find a new husband after both of their husbands died. Oprah, Naomi’s other daughter-in-law, already went back home. Ruth refuses to leave Naomi. Realistically, Ruth has no ties to Naomi at this point, but Ruth is a shining example of loyalty here. Ruth shows an intrinsic bond with someone to share in their life, good and bad. Nothing in this talked about benefits or what each other would get out of it. In fact, Naomi tried to send Ruth away so she could get married again and find happiness. Ruth remained steadfast.
True love for others is the ability to share in life with someone else. It’s not just sympathy or even empathy. You are not just putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. You are accepting that you will never understand everything a person is going through or their situation, but valuing their existence. You see that there is a continuous connectedness between you and each person you meet. You choose to honor. You see their value in existing because God loves them like He loves you.
Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart…Acts 2:46
Eventually, you’ll see that there is no separation between people. Sharing time, energy, and things with others is just getting to know another part of the human experience. Caring for others becomes like caring for yourself. Loving others becomes loving yourself. Blessings flowing to your neighbor are blessings for your, regardless of reaped benefits on your part. Loving others is learning to love yourself. There is no difference.
What are some ways that you have learned to love others? What is one moment that you can think of that people shared unselfish love with you? Let me know in the comments below.
Turn Your Brightness Up!