True Love - What is It?

heart crossLove is not a feeling, but an action. Most of the world would think that is a crazy statement! Many people probably would not agree with it at all. According to popular culture, love is something that you feel. You "fall in love" with someone, but those feelings may fade, and then you may "fall out of love." In popular culture, love is conditional. You love those who are kind and lovable, but those who are difficult to love, well... maybe you don't love them so much – or at all. What does the Bible teach us about love? Deuteronomy 6:4-5 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.

Mark 12:29-31 Jesus answered him, "The first of all the commandments is: 'Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.' This is the first commandment. And the second like it is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."

God doesn't give us a choice about love. His first and greatest commandment, according to Jesus, is that we love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. We are to love Him with all of our resources - as much as possible. How could God command us to love Him if love were a feeling? You can’t force yourself to feel something! God can command us to love because love is something you do – it’s an action. God is the single most important "person" in a human being’s life. God is our Creator and Sustainer. He sent His Son, Jesus, to be the Sacrifice for our sins so that we could be reconciled to Him and have an eternal relationship with Him both now and in Heaven. Without knowing God, you are lost in this world, blindly trying to live without the help of the Creator. Just as you need the user’s guide to help you learn to use your new cell phone, you need the help of the Maker to explain how to truly live as He intended. Without God, we would have no hope. We would be destined to live forever without Him in hell. Obviously, He would want us to know and love Him if we have no hope without Him!

What do you do if you wake up one day and don't "feel" like loving God? You forget about your feelings and you go ahead and do the things you do every day - read your Bible, pray, sing praises, serve Him in obedience... just as if you "felt" like loving Him. Why? You do it because you were commanded to love Him. The feelings will come back as you perform the actions. Psychologists will tell you that the feeling follows the action, not the other way around. Our feelings change daily. Emotions are very unstable things! They can be swayed by circumstances, hormones, how much rest we've had - a myriad of reasons! Feelings can also be swayed by your actions. If you act like you love someone, then you will start feeling like you love that person. Spend time with God, asking Him to help you love Him as you should, and in time, you will begin to love Him with all your heart, just as He has commanded!

What about loving others? Jesus said the second most important commandment is to love our neighbors as ourselves. In fact, He goes even farther in Matthew 5:43:

"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you."

Jesus went on to explain in that passage that God sends the rain on both the just and the unjust, therefore, we should also show kindness to everyone. John also tells us that in 1 John 3:

1 John 3:7-11 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love, does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

Once again, if love were a feeling, God could not command us to love. John explains to us what love is by explaining what God did for us out of love. He sent His only Son to die for our sins so we would not have to die, but could have eternal life. In other words, He is totally committed to doing whatever it takes to provide for us at all times. He not only created the earth, our food, our resources, our bodies, our breath – you get the picture – He sent Jesus to die for us so we could be with Him forever, enjoying His presence and all that He has created for us in Heaven…

1 Corinthians 2:9 But as it is written: Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.

He is totally committed to us and shows it by His actions. Therefore, our actions should also show that we are committed to doing whatever is in the best interest of the other person that we love. It doesn’t have anything at all to do with how we are feeling about that person or how they are treating us or what they have or haven’t done. We are commanded to show them love, regardless!

Titus 2:4-5 that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.

As wives and mothers, we are also commanded to love our husbands and children. Now, children are fairly easy to love – until they become teenagers! I’m just joking! We love our children with a love that only mother’s can understand. I believe it is the kind of love God has for us as His children. Most mothers are committed to doing whatever is necessary for the wellbeing of their children. We will sacrifice to see that our children have everything they need – even when those children don’t always appreciate what we do. Their actions have nothing to do with our love for them!

When you say your wedding vows and promise to love, honor, and cherish each other until death do you part, to whom are you making a vow? It’s not to your husband. It’s to God.

Ecclesiastes 5:4-5 When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it; for He has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you have vowed – better not to vow than to vow and not pay.

We could also go into all the verses about divorce, but this one will do for now. When you make a promise before God to love someone until you die, you should keep your vow. The excuse that you don’t “feel” love for him any more isn’t valid, because as we’ve just seen, love is not based on feelings but on actions. The excuse that he doesn’t appreciate you won’t wash either, because your children don’t always appreciate you, but you certainly don’t stop loving them and providing for them. The excuse that you’re not happy being married to him any more won’t work, because happiness is an emotion that constantly changes and can be changed by your actions and attitudes. God gives us joy unspeakable when we serve Him in obedience. We should be seeking joy and not happiness. We are called by God to love – period. We aren’t provided with any qualifying conditions that must be met first by the other party.

Here’s a challenge. Think of someone that you can love by your actions. Maybe it’s your husband, a child, or it could even be someone who has recently hurt your feelings. Ask God to help you decide on a person, and then do something for them that shows love the way the Bible describes it. I can almost guarantee that you will be blessed more than they will! God bless you!

My name is Brenda Hedgepeth. I have been married to my wonderful husband for 29 years. We have 6 children. I am blogging to share how we are trying to serve God and honor Him in all that we do. We have a family blog called Halls Creek Farm and I have a second blog called Far Above Pearls to mentor young married women.