Saturday, February 15, 2014

What is love?

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 1 John 4:11,12 (NIV) 

This time of year, everything is red or pink and heart-shaped. All the magazine covers tell us “5 Tips to Win Back Your Man’s Heart” or “Take Her on the Date of a Lifetime.” Love is everywhere, or at least packaged definitions of love are everywhere. "If you really loved him, you’d buy him that expensive watch", says that magazine ad. Others say, "if you really loved her, she’d open a little felt box of diamonds on a ski vacation!" 

 And while the bible can’t tell you if you can pull that dress off for your big date tonight, it does answer the burning question behind all of this steamy advice: what is love? In the 1 John passage above, the question is answered for us. When Jesus died on the cross for the sins of His enemies, He gave us the best example of what love truly is: sacrifice. I may know how to love my wife, even when I screw up, but how do I love others with the sacrificial love Christ showed on the cross? 

 E.M. Bounds was a pastor around the time of the Civil War. He wrote a lot about prayer. He said this:
“Talking to men for God is a great thing, but talking to God for men is greater still. He will never talk well and with real success to men for God who has not learned well how to talk to God for men.” 

Spending time in prayer for those around us is a wonderful way to show the love of Christ. We know that when God’s people pray, God moves powerfully among them. There are also many small decisions we can make in a day to show love to those around us. We can leave work early to have a family game night or send someone an encouraging email. When we sacrifice our most precious resources for other, like time and attention, we show others how important they are to us and to God.