A lot of times it seems that when we think of love we think of delicate or soft things like lace, teddy bears, heart pillows, balloons, or flowers. But when we look at love as demonstrated in the Bible, we get the picture of something that may be gentle and kind, but is also something that takes perseverance and sacrifice.
The world sends us many confusing messages of what love is in popular music, entertainment, and advertisements. With this in mind, when I worked with our youth at the Texarkana SDB Church, in Arkansas, we tried to discuss what we mean by “love” each February. This is important because often we mistakenly equate simple attraction and affection for love. But true love, as demonstrated by God, is a sustained will for the good of another. In romantic scenarios, often attraction to someone will motivate what may appear to be selfless acts, but if superficial attraction is the source of motivation, what is being displayed is neither truly selfless nor likely to be sustained.
For example, true love for a spouse would not be about personal comfort and self-gratification, but about seeing to the needs of our husband or wife before our own wants and needs. A friend of mine recently relayed a story that was shared with him about a conversation between a father and his son who was soon to be a groom. The story went that the son asked for any advice his father might have and in return the father quizzed his son on why he was marring the young lady. The son’s response was to enumerate the many ways that she complimented his life, how much he enjoyed being around her, and her many qualities. The father’s sage advice was to not marry this woman until his son had determined in his heart that the reason he was joining her life to his was that he might daily make her life better in ways that were truly valuable.
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. (Ephesians 5:25)
In December 2014, I had the privilege of visiting with the fledgling Seventh Day Baptist group in Cumberland, Maryland. There, at Full Gospel SDB, I was able to give a message on what love looks like as demonstrated by the Bible. I shared that as God showed in sending His own Son as a sacrifice for our sins, true love is not self-seeking, and in action may cost us much. True love requires courage, commitment, and often giving up our own comfort or maybe experiencing personal pain to see good in the life of another. This is the stuff of spiritual warriors, because it is fruit manifested by work of the Holy Spirit, in our lives. God’s love is heroic, overcomes fear, and is selfless. God’s love is sensitive to not carelessly injure others. However, it is not cowardly. As they were designed to do in connection with God, who is Love, real men (and women) live lives of selfless love.
– Clinton R. Brown, Executive Director