As I was walking throughout my day, the theme of selfless love presented itself over and over again.
And I began to think – what does that actually look like? What is selfless love?
First, I would propose that there is no real love that is not selfless. Selfish love cannot exist – it’s an oxymoron; there’s no place for it. Selfish love is actually just selfishness and selfless love is actually just love. With today’s ideas, however, love is a hard word for a lot of people. Just in the last couple days I’ve heard startling statistics and heart wrenching stories. Did you know it’s more common to come from a broken family than not? That one-third of all first marriages fail? That half of all marriages fail? Love has been seriously distorted in our society, and its misconfiguration has definitely screwed us all up. So, to really recognize that love is truly unfailing, we first have to rediscover its real definition.
God is Love, and Love, as Paul puts it in 1 Corinthians 13, “is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”
It does not demand its own way. Love is entirely selfless and sacrificial in nature. Saying “I love you” to someone is entirely meaningless if it is not backed up by servant-attitude actions that reinforce what “I love you” means – I love you, I value you, I honor you, you are important to me, and I want you to know you are loved.
Jesus is the key to this. And He wasn’t just loving in His life, but also in His death, in His wrapping Himself in flesh, in His sacrifice of the glory. He knelt down and wrote our forgiveness in the sand, knowing full well rejection was staring Him down the long, painful road to come. He loved and loved and loved without regard for the ways people could “pay Him back” or “reward Him”.
Something very interesting that Rob McCorkle pointed out is that Love is not something we extend to receive in return, Love is extended to everyone – Jesus washed Judas’ feet too. That must have pained His heart so much – not because He knew He would never be rewarded for His love but because He really loved Judas so much that the thought of Him not experiencing that all-consuming love was tragic. It was shattering to Jesus and it should be to us too.
“If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them! And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much! And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get credit? Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return. “Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.” (Luke 6:32-36)
Mirror the Father – mirror Love.
Today, love is defined as what makes you happy. Funny enough, Love does not equal happiness. Love is not a feeling. Love is commitment. Love is sacrifice. Love is serving. Love is engaging. Love is hard. Love is worth it. From all the way back to Old Testament times, covenants were made in Love – God promised to die for our shortcomings, a covenant of Love. The fast-paced you-don’t-make-me-happy-so-I-don’t-love-you-anymore world we live in has caused an unspeakable amount of destruction because we can’t seem to wrap our minds around sacrifice, joy, and covenant being the better and more fruitful alternative to fleeting happy feelings.
Everything we see written in 1 Corinthians describing Love is exactly what God is. How often do we forget that our relationships with our friends, family, and significant others aren’t about a feeling or just being there for the heck of it? They’re about representing what it looks like to be like God. They’re about drawing one another closer to Jesus. In every situation, whether with strangers or spouses, we are called to Love – to Love in such a way that when people see you and me, they see Him.
Galatians 2:20 says: “My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” If we are called to mirror the Him, we are called to love well and that means sacrifice.
Love is not always easy, but it will always be the most important – “Three things will last forever–faith, hope, and love–and the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13)
Love is what we are called to be – to our family, friends, spouses, strangers… everyone.
And to quote a dear friend – “He loves us because He loves us because He loves us because He loves us.”
And we should Love others the same.