A Four Letter Word

You would never think that a word with just 4 little letters would have such an impact on us, both Christians and not. People throw it away like it’s nothing. Some would give anything to get it. It’s a feeling, an action word, and a command all in one. When you have it, it’s sometimes not what you expected. And when it’s taken away from you, it takes quite some time to mend yourself back together. When you feel it, you’ll do anything for the person it’s directed at. And everyone on this planet is searching for it, all in their own way. And it always looks different; old hands gently caring for a life long spouse. Young hands receiving a ring and exchanging a promise. Friends supporting each other in rough times, carrying each other’s burdens. Handwritten letters flying miles over land and sea. It shows in a volunteer, when they inconvenience themselves to help another for no other reason except for this word. It looks like a blameless man being beaten, mocked, shown indecency, and sacrificing HIS life, for ours. And finally, it looks like a bunch of small red letters written on a page “You MUST love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: Love your neighbour as yourself” Matt. 22v37-39

The Bible spits out verses about love repeatedly, and so it starts to make me wonder– Why is this emotion, command, verb, so much more important than the others? Why does it come before joy? peace? patience? kindness? goodness? faithfulness? gentlness? self-control? I’ve contemplated this for a while now, and perhaps I’m wrong, but I think I’ve figured this out.

See, in 1 John 4v8, it’s written, “But anyone who does not love, does not know God, for GOD IS LOVE.” God is love. That’s a pretty complicated characteristic to take on. If this is true, it’d mean that any action or non-action God has taken in our lives means it was always because He loves us. Now, this gets really personal really quickly, because a lot of times we don’t see love. Not when we’re hurt. Not when we lose someone. Not when someone attacks us. And I’m not going to pretend I have a one-size-fits-all answer, because I don’t. But I have to remind myself that just because I don’t see the love the way I expect to, doesn’t mean it’s not there. And where love is, God is. Because God is love. He said so. If I ask you to be patient with a child, you could, but that doesn’t mean you love them. I could require you to be kind to everyone, but you could turn around and complain about them the minute they’re gone. But if I ask you to love them, the rest falls into place. You are patient, because you love. You are self controlled, because without that, you are not loving. Not loving to yourself, and not loving to others. And this is why I think love is so important. Because without love, everything falls apart. “Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.” Colossians 3v14

I think it’s important to remember that love always looks different. It’s so easy for us to generalize love by watching sappy romance movies, or digging into a “good old” love story, but that’s only one side of love, and usually fairly inaccurate. But love looks different, as I went over at the beginning, because God is different. He is indescribable. And if He created each one of us in His own image, and you can see how unique we all are, imagine how beautifully complicated He is. So when you remember Jesus’ command to love, you need to ask him what that looks like for you. Do you love with your words? How about your money? How do you love with your time? Can you love someone, simply by listening, by being present? Can you love by forgiving without being asked? Or by offering more than you’re comfortable doing? 

Love is big. And love is small. But at the end of the day, you can change someone’s life by just giving them love. We have all been given such a gift from Christ, and whether we receive it or not is up to us. But the greatest thing happens when we finally decide to claim it as our own. We find out how infectious it is to love. And why not give out some extra love today? It doesn’t cost you anything. In fact, you’ll find that by giving it away, you gain it back multiplied.

Love. Never. Dies.

With Strength that is not my own, Sam