I am convinced that we will never fully understand what makes relationships work until we understand what true love is. Before we can find true love, I think it would be helpful to know what we are looking for. How can we find something if we don’t know what it looks like? For example, has anybody ever asked you to find something that they knew what it looked like, but you didn’t? They had the color, shape, size in mind, but you didn’t have the same frame of reference so it was difficult for you to find it because you didn’t know what it looked like.
I remember trying to help Michael find a photo he was looking for. He tried to describe it but no matter how hard I tried to look for it, I couldn’t locate it. He came into the room and took one look at the photo album I was looking through and said, “There it is! That’s the picture!” He found it instantly because he knew what he was looking for. I was clueless and felt like I was looking for a needle in a haystack.
There are many ideas today about what love is. We hear things like: I love chocolate. I love spicy food. I love reading books. I love jazz music. I love praise and worship music. I love to laugh. I love my husband. I love my wife. Now, before this gets sickly sweet and we all stand up and sing Kumbaya, I want to tell you why I’m talking about love this way. It is because each time we use that word, we use it differently. Love means different things to different people. People recognize that love is an action but they think of it as an emotion. Love is not an emotion; love is a decision.
In 1 Corinthians Chapter 13, known as the Love Chapter, Paul tells us what true love is. He gets real concrete. Paul says that love: Doesn't always grumble about the current state of affairs; it's willing to tolerate slow change and it’s willing to try again; love is kind; it's warm; it's sympathetic; it sees and feels the difficulty of the other person; it's not cold and analytical; love doesn't envy; it doesn't boast; it isn't proud; love recognizes its own weaknesses and its own need for grace; it's not rude; it avoids abrasive, inflammatory language; love listens. What this section of scripture tells us is that “true love” is not so much about “Finding It” but more about working to “Keep it.” Wow, do we love like that?
What 1 Corinthians 13 is really telling us is that true love starts with us. Instead of trying to “find” the right person to love us it’s more important to “be” the right person and love him/her. Doug Jones, a professor and minister from Rhema Bible Training Center, says that “true love is joyfully choosing to take an action that promotes the welfare of another person.” Are we doing that? Are we doing what is most beneficial for others or are we doing what is most beneficial for ourselves? Apparently, when a person is loved they should be better off after we’ve loved them than before we loved them. They should be better off because we’re in their life. Love is joyfully choosing, deliberately choosing; love is a decision not a feeling or emotion.
If we want to understand relationships, then we need to understand true love. Why don’t you take a minute today and ask yourself if you are showing true love to those in your life. Believe me, it can be a humbling experience!