Christian Mingle is proud to bring you regular guest posts from some of our favorite voices in the Christian community. From the challenging and inspiring to the warm and the witty, these posts will help you strengthen your faith and your relationships. This month: Christian author and mentor Michael Daniels offers a fresh perspective on the real meaning of love.
Love as an Emotion
What do you think of when you hear the word “love”? Often, our minds drift to romance. Thoughts of Valentine’s Day, roses, chocolates and special dates. Or, perhaps, heroism mixed with passion. The film industry often portrays love as something that you simply “fall into,” leaving us to think of love as merely an emotion.
Love Being Part of Character
Certainly, love involves passion! But I’d like to encourage us to think deeper about its meaning. A good place to start is by taking a peek at some ways in which God defines love. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 says:
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”
With this verse in mind, ask yourself the following questions:
- Am I patient?
- Would others describe me as being a “kind” person?
- Am I happy for others when they get something that I may have wanted?
- How do I speak about myself? Is it humble?
- Do I put others’ needs above my own?
- Am I forbearing with others even if they are difficult?
As you can see, being loving involves more than just emotion. It involves self-denial and placing the needs of others before our own. It takes character, and character is not something built overnight. A deeper understanding of love will be needed if you get into a relationship or marry someday. So it’s important to begin working on this quality now.
Our Ultimate Example of Love
We often look to role models to imitate certain qualities that we admire. For instance, if you want to sharpen entrepreneurial skills, you may seek to follow the example of someone like Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. Or if you want to become a better leader, you may closely observe the lives of Ronald Reagan or Queen Elizabeth II. But if we’re looking to find an example of love, who better to look to than Jesus Christ? He demonstrated perfect love through His birth, life, death and resurrection.
Jesus demonstrated perfect love through his birth
Jesus demonstrated love to us through His willingness to step down from Heaven and take on human form. The Bible encourages us to “have the same mind as Christ” by “not looking to our own interests, but rather to the interests of others” (Phil. 2:3-8). We should be willing to deny ourselves just as Jesus did. Imagine the humility that this must have taken – Jesus, being God, “emptied Himself” and became a lowly man! He was born in an animal’s feeding trough in a stable, and into a family whose father was a poor carpenter. The Bible describes Jesus as a man who grew up with “no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him” (Isaiah 53:2). Why did Jesus do all this? Because of His love for us! He came so that He could make a way for us to be right with God at His own expense.
Jesus demonstrated perfect love in His life
Jesus was also a model of love and compassion during His ministry here on earth. He performed many healings. He demonstrated servanthood by washing the feet of His disciples, and elevated the status of those overlooked in society (such as women and children). Beyond all that, He didn’t let the judgement of others stop Him from being seen ministering to those who bad reputations (tax collectors, adulterers, etc.). Jesus was the ultimate example of showing kindness despite adversity and “doing to others what you would have them do to you.”
Jesus demonstrated perfect love in His death and resurrection
Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Isn’t that what Jesus did for us? Think about it – Jesus, being God, stepped down, became a human, denied Himself all throughout His life, and then died a brutal death fit only for the vilest of criminals. And He did all of this for us. Would you call that love?
So, here’s the catch. How does Jesus’s example apply to relationships? Ephesians 5:25 says this, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Mic drop. How can we live up to a standard such as this? We’re called to demonstrate love toward our future spouses in the same way that Jesus has loved us. What a tall order! In light of this, keep looking to Christ as your example. As you seek to grow in love, you will be better prepared for your future spouse.
What if I’m Single or Never Marry?
Perhaps you’re concerned that since you’re single that this doesn’t apply to you. Well, Jesus said that the greatest commandment is that “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind […] and a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matt. 22:36-39) If you begin practicing love towards others as a single, you’re fulfilling God’s second greatest commandment. I’d say that’s a significant way to spend your life!
A Call to Show a Deeper Love
As mentioned before, love is more than just an emotion. It’s a character quality that can’t be learned overnight, but can be strengthened over time. As you continue on your relationship journey, look to God’s Word and Jesus’s example to begin weaving a deeper love throughout your own character.
You might also be interested in: Falling In Love: Is It A Feeling, Or A Choice?
About the Author:
Michael Daniels has a passion for mentoring young men, especially in the areas of Bible-based character, relationships and marital preparation. He is married to his lovely wife, Mandy, and they both love raising their little son, Wesley, together.
Michael authored the book Becoming Mr. Right: A Young Man’s Guide to God-Honoring Relationships. This book focuses on helping young men establish a Biblical framework for God-honoring, romantic relationships. It is geared toward (but not limited to) young men ranging in age from 15 to 25 years old.
If you would like to learn more about Michael or his book or are a young man looking for spiritual encouragement, feel free to check out his website at www.becomingmrright.net or like him on Facebook!