We all chase love. It’s a basic need that we have been created with, a need that was designed to be fulfilled in a specific way that our sin and fallen state has distorted. Because of this distortion, we spend our lives seeking anything and everything that will satisfy our desire. Unfortunately, the people that we seek love from are just as jacked up as we are, which leads to a whole lot of destruction within our souls. The problem is we base love on our selfish needs and desires…or simply put, we base love on ourselves. I know I have. In the aftermath of numerous failed relationships, I began questioning if I even understand what love is. It’s led me on a journey to discover a better, more fulfilling way. And today I have experienced one of those spiritual marker moments.
I read an excerpt from Herbert Armstrong’s book “The Mystery of the Ages” in which he lays out a perspective of love that resonates deep within my soul. He defines love as “outgoing concern toward others”. Wow! This implies proactivity, an outward focus, which is so contrary to the characterization of love that we see in our culture. We’re told love is a feeling, so if it doesn’t feel good it must not be love. But feelings are deceptive. Jeremiah 17:9 says that “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” Show of hands…who can relate to that? I think that’s why Armstrong’s perspective of love is so refreshing and challenging to me. It flies in the face of how Hollywood says we should love (me, me, me) and pushes the focus upon others. “Men shall turn from the way of ‘get’ to the way of ‘give’ – God’s way of love.”
Yesterday, my pastor Bobby preached on being doers of the word and not just hearers…that we should be applying what we know and learn, so that we “plow deep instead of wide”. I am incredibly challenged in applying what I’ve learned today about love. Do I have an outgoing love toward others? Specifically, do I have an outgoing love toward:
· My kids?
· My parents and brothers and their families?
· My friends?
· My church family?
· My coworkers?
· Other people that I encounter?
Even more challenging is this: Do I have an outgoing love toward God?
Jesus said that the greatest commandments could be summed up in love God and love others. To do both, we are called to step outside ourselves and our selfish desires…which is impossible based upon our own efforts by the way. Thankfully, God has poured His love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5), which empowers us to love as Christ Jesus first loved us. Selflessly.