Some believe love is simply an act of benevolence. While that can be an accurate statement, it is not totally true. We have all done things for the benefit of the people we professed to love albeit with an unloving attitude. Consider if you will the husband who responds very harshly when his wife request something as simple as taking the trash out “FINE! I’ll take the garbage out so you will get off my back already” this action is not performed as an act of love or kindness. Maybe he has been asked when he will have time to mow the lawn, he reluctantly jumps up and goes out to cut the grass simply because he feels his wife has been nagging him for weeks and he now believes he is doing a kind act, unfortunately as he tells his neighbor he is only doing it “so she’ll get off my back” On the other hand the wife agrees to be sexually intimate with her husband not out of love but out of a sense of duty or guilt “here he comes, it has been a while and he’s so cranky lately, let me go and get my wifely duties over with”. She is not performing an act of love, much like her husband has done, she is participating in an activity based on obligation.
What difference does it all make anyway as long as it all is accomplished everyone is happy right…wrong!
Love is cooperating with God in serving others. The individuals who truly love, see themselves as God’s agents for enriching the lives of the people around them, in their communities, on their jobs, in their homes, people they meet. For them, love is not based on how one feels but a way of life.
When reduced to a feeling, love becomes a narcissistic fantasy, and any relationship we are involved in becomes tyranny. When we began by observing how often we are all tempted to prove the validity of our love by somehow displaying it one to another in front of the entire world, satisfying our own need to quantify the immeasurable depth of our sincerity against some invisible measuring stick. There is no doubt as Christian our witness to the world is important. But when that witness is burdened by “proof,” it is no longer a witness of love.
The work of love is not about proof of how we feel; it is about Jesus. Emotions are but icing on the cake without a loving attitude and appropriate behavior, the icing will simply melt. That’s it. It is His work, through the Holy Spirit, to draw people unto Himself.
I find it interesting when I read in John 21:15-17 where Jesus after having breakfast with His disciples soon after His resurrection turned and asked Peter the threefold question “Do you love me?” Peter, the one who had not only denied knowing Him in the darkest part of the night but after all he had been through with Jesus, was now able to simply suggest in John 21:3 that it was time to return to his previous way of life where Jesus first found him – going fishing. Jesus was not simply asking Peter if he loved Him with some superficial emotional feeling but are you completely devoted to Me with the intensity that would compel you to sacrifice all, your own thoughts, desires, and stuff, everything for Me.
There is a very interesting contrast in these verses because when you look at the Greek words for “love” used in John 21:15-17. When Jesus asked Peter “do you love me?” initially He used the Greek word agape which refers to unconditional love. Peter responded with “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you,” however, Peter was using the Greek word phileo which refers more to a brotherly, friendship type of love.
Although love is an invisible entity, when it is the right love it can be clearly seen. Too often we love people based our own emotions, on how we feel, without truly considering their needs, however love for Christians is so much more than feelings it is a command and must be carried out as a way of life. If we truly love the Lord, we will show this by obeying His Word in every aspect of our lives. “If you love me, keep my commandments” – John 14:15. His commandments are not burdensome, but are the very nature of love itself. Consider the greatest of all the commandments according to Jesus. Matthew 22:37-39, “… Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” We would be wise to also, consider the fruit of the Spirit: Galatians 5:22-23, ” But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”
We should first love Jesus unconditional, then love one another more than enough, always giving each other our very best for their good, even if the other person doesn’t deserve it, gets on your nerves, nags you, etc. even if it means the giving of all we have.
“Do you love me?”
Hopefully, we can say with Peter, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” As we willing follow Him wherever he leads so that our love may be manifest in the tending of His sheep.