A new commandment I give you that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:34-35
As our update happens to come out on Valentine’s Day this week, I thought it may be a good time to write an article on love. If you are reading this article in hopes of finding some last minute Valentine’s Day ideas for your wife - you are out of luck. Giving out romantic ideas has never been my strong point, and besides, if I come up with a good idea, I can’t really give it out to other people before I use it. Then again, that is not the point of this article.
Too often we associate love with emotion and feelings. And while love often involves emotions, love goes much deeper than this. The love Jesus mentions in John 13 is a sacrificial love, an act of will in putting others above yourself. C.S. Lewis puts it this way, “But love, in the Christian sense, does not mean an emotion. It is a state not of the feelings but of the will; that state of the will which we have naturally about ourselves, and must learn to have about other people.” We naturally love ourselves and look out for our own best interests. Jesus calls us to love others in the same way in which we already love ourselves. Jesus showed us how to love others sacrificially and ultimately proved His love for God and for us by dying on the cross. He died to pay for my sin, for your sin. This sacrificial love was not driven by emotion or feeling. This love is driven by complete faith in God the Father and obedience to the word of God. Jesus died for us while we were sinners. He did not die for us because we had earned His affection; He died for us in spite of our enmity towards Him.
Therefore, if Jesus could love us and die for us while we were sinners, we need to be able to love others. And if we wait to love others until we have feelings of love towards them, we may never actually get around to loving anyone else. C.S. Lewis points this out in his chapter on Charity in “Mere Christianity.” He says that it is foolish for us to try and manufacture feelings of affection. If we would like to love our neighbors, then we need to start loving them in action regardless of whether or not we feel like it. Lewis states, “When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.”
As we think about love and how we are to love one another, it is helpful to meditate on God and His love towards us. His love for us is the only reason we can truly love anyone else. He loves us enough to sanctify and discipline us. His unfailing love towards us allows us to love other people.
“But the great thing to remember is that, though our feelings come and go, His love for us does not. It is not wearied by our sins, or our indifference, and therefore, it is quite relentless in its determination that we shall be cured of those sins, at whatever cost to us, at whatever cost to Him.” C.S. Lewis