A Week of Love
Love is in the air, at least for this week as many celebrated Valentine’s Day on Thursday. Are you one who celebrates the holiday of forever love? Perhaps forever love though is declining. The National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights and Analytics survey on Valentine’s Day spending concluded that fewer consumers would celebrate the holiday this year. However, retailers shouldn’t dismay as celebrants planned on spending 13 percent more.
Interestingly, according to NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay, most of the spending is focused on the forever love component of significant others but consumers are spreading the love to include children, parents, friends, and coworkers. It was Thomas a’ Kempis who said, “Whoever loves much, does much.” I’m pretty sure, however, that this medieval author wasn’t referring to consumer spending on people we love.
Love is such a broad term in today’s world and means so many different things to different people. But maybe young children have a better idea of what forever love is. Take for instance the viewpoints of a group of 5 and 6-year old’s. Chrissie, age 6, said that “Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French Fries without making them give you any of theirs.” It was Elaine, age 5, who said, “Love is when Mommy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken.” But maybe it is Nikka, age 6, who understands best what love truly is. She said, “If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate.”
Natural and Supernatural
It is natural for us to love those who love us, but it is supernatural to love those that hate us. Today’s world doesn’t seem, on a whole, to understand what true forever love is. However, as the apostle Paul tells us, it is the greatest of all things. But John, the apostle, reminds us that of all the human qualities we hold, love is only possible because of God, for He is love.
True and forever love, however, doesn’t arrive from a worldly gift. It comes only when our faith and hope in God work together and move in the same direction. While our faith is the grounding or foundation of love; love is the action or product produced through unselfish service to others. This is accomplished through our attitude of hope.
It is only by the power of God that we can align our faith and hope to be free to completely love others because we know that without hesitation that God loves us. All three are important, as the apostle Paul tells us. However, with the first two in place, the greatest shine through solidly as the forever love given to us by our Creator.
Three things will last forever, faith, hope, and love- and the greatest of these is love.1 Corinthians 13:13 (NLT)
The 3 Forever Things
Knowing the three things of life that last forever is great, holding onto them fully is more difficult in the world we live in. Of the three, love seems the more tangible and the product or action most humans seek to obtain in some form. Unfortunately, even for Christians, we often attempt to pick and choose not only who we are going to love but when.
Love on Sunday is easy as we are focused on God and worship but then Monday comes with all of its issues and suddenly love doesn’t seem attainable. But loving others is the response of those whom God has forgiven. The apostle John didn’t say that love is God, but that God is love. Unlike the temporary love of the world; God’s love isn’t conditional, fickle or fleeting; it is forever.
The world would have us turn love into God, but love is more than a good feeling, a fun gift, or temporal. Real love is God who is holy, just, and perfect. It is only possible to obtain forever love with the help of God who is love. Sometimes real love is hard, for it means standing by the principles of God. These are times that we must act our way into love.
Why it is Important to Act Your Way into Feeling It
Marriage counselors often advise couples who claim love is lost to act into feeling. So, they should act as if they love each other even if they feel they don’t. Doing the things that show love even when you don’t feel like it is beneficial for everyone. If we focus on God’s love for us then we can allow Him to love others through us. We must remember, as Philip Yancey said, “God loves people because of who God is, not because of who we are.”
God loves us forever and wants us to love Him forever as well. But we can’t truly love God and not love others. We are called to accept and love those God puts in our path remembering that each of us is created in His image. We can love our neighbors even if we disagree with their actions and decisions, but we can only love them by the power that God gives us to do so through the Holy Spirit.
James Packer, in his book, Your Father Loves You, points out this connection. The Greek word agape (love) appears to be virtually a Christian invention. It stands apart as a new word for a new thing. It is almost non-existent before the New Testament. Agape draws its meaning directly from the revelation of God in Christ. It is not a form of natural affection, however, intense, but a supernatural fruit of the Spirit. A matter of will rather than feeling. It is the base element for Christ-likeness. Our actions must reflect that we know real love because Christ gave His life for us. So, our love must clearly display in our actions for this is the way our faith expresses itself through loving others.
The Greatest Forever Gift
Won’t you challenge yourself to not only receive but give the greatest of all gifts, the power of forever love gifted by God? Find your conviction rooted in the knowledge that Christ gave His life for you to have not only forever love but forever life. Allow your motivation to stem from the power of love granted by the Holy Spirit. Surround yourself in the comfort of knowing that with faith as your foundation and hope as your attitude; the action of love is possible to offer to all people, even those you disagree with.
Allow God to grant and multiply in you His gifts offered through the Holy Spirit in the form of not only love, but joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Love in Christ,
Do not waste your time bothering whether “love” your neighbor act as if you did. As soon as we do this, we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you love someone, you will presently come to love him. If you injure someone you dislike, you will find yourself disliking him more. If you do him a good turn, you will find yourself disliking him less.C.S. Lewis
If you judge people, you have no time to love them.Mother Teresa
What Are Your Thoughts?
Have you fully given thought to the things that last forever? Do you consider that the three top things in life that are forever are faith, hope, and love? Share your thoughts on the greatest of these; love.
Credits J. Craig Shearman - Government Affairs Public Relations, National Retail Federation. (2019, January 30). Valentine's Day but those who do are spending more. Washington, District of Columbia, United States. Packer, J. (1986). Your Father Loves You. Chicago: Harold Shaw Publishers.