Valentine’s Day has come and gone, but the aura of “love” that it emphasizes remains in our hearts and minds. Alas, we have only one word in our English language to define love—and “love” can mean and can be many things! Love is not just an idea; it’s not just a fuzzy warm feeling; love is an action word. We cannot love without showing our love in our actions toward those we love.
The Apostle Paul tried to describe love and its importance to the Corinthian church in I Corinthians 13 . He wrote them that love is:
- not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude
- It does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth
- love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things
- love never ends
This is not just a “warm fuzzy feeling of the heart” Paul is talking about! It is an “act of the will” that puts the other person—the one loved—ahead of the one doing the loving.
And what is Love for us today?
- It is keeping silent when our words would hurt another person.
- It is patience when our neighbor is being hateful.
- It is empathy and compassion for another’s sorrows and woes.
- It is promptness when duty calls.
- It is the courage to reach out to someone when others draw back from them in disgust..
- It is offering hope to those feeling that all is hopeless.
- It is forgiveness for those who have hurt us or wronged us.
- It is a hug given to someone who is hurting.
- It is a smile and a “hi” to a stranger.
- It is putting other people’s needs ahead of our own needs.
- It is, in summary, to make ourselves vulnerable as we relate to others.
Yes! To love is difficult! To love is risky! To love another person is to make ourselves very vulnerable! Those of us who have lost loved ones can testify to that fact. But the alternative of not loving isn’t a good one, as C.S. Lewis in his book The Four Loves (1960) wrote: “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully, avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket—-safe, dark, motionless, airless—-it will change. Your heart will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.”
Jesus reminded his followers during his ministry that people would know that they were his disciples by the love they had for each other. What Jesus said then is true today. People today are drawn to God by the love that Jesus’ followers show to each other and to the world.
Take the risk—love! Love is an action word—-do it!!