Our church has been studying II Timothy 1:12 with the theme “Be Resolved.” So Sunday, Pastor began a series of sermons about love—specifically, being resolved to love.
I think many of us are still trying to figure out what to feel and think after the Charlottesville tragedy, and he began the discussion of being resolved to love by talking about hate.
Hate and love are not two emotions on the same spectrum, he told us. Hate originates from sin. Love, however, is divine. And if hate is of the flesh, then it’s something we naturally fall into. But love… love requires work.
The hubby and I happened upon a radio program the other day about raising children. I have no idea why we were listening to it… we don’t have children!
But I’ve learned that nothing is wasted with God, and as usual, I picked up on a little something the moderator said.
He described realizing that when he corrects his children, that he tells them to look at him. Sternly he says, “Look at me! Look me in the eye right now!” Then he proceeds to discipline them for something.
But he found that he didn’t use that same tact when he’s telling them how special they are or how much he loves them. And the fallacy in that is this: “Don’t think about pink elephants,” he said.
“I don’t want you to think about pink elephants. For a few minutes, just don’t think about pink elephants, whatever you do. Don’t think about pink elephants.”
Are you thinking about pink elephants right now? Exactly…
So, if we’re not loving and expressing love with the same intention and the same frequency as we are correcting, then the message of what not to do becomes stronger than what we want children to do.
And it’s not just children. Spend a few hours on social media reading post after post of anger and hurt and division and see how good you feel about the world afterwards.
Did you know that the Bible talks about love almost 415 times? And hate? Only about 150 times. There’s a reason for that.
Each time we open the Bible, God the Father is giving us the chance to look Him in the eye as He speaks to us. And the message He wants us to receive first and foremost is love. He wants us to become the living example of His love.
God not only gave us His example of how to love, He instructed us that we should love. That’s His assignment. He wants us to love.
There is nothing that God tells us to do that He doesn’t provide the ability to obey. But true love, the kind of love he commands of us, isn’t easy.
Loving like God is hard.
I mean, I can’t even fathom the kind of love He has for me. He loved me so much that He sent His only son to save me. He sent His son to die for me.
Sunday, my pastor said, “Love doesn’t just happen by itself.” And I got stuck on that. I mean, I’m a romance writer. Love happens all the time by itself in my work. Guy meets girl. Girl meets guy. Bam! They’re in love.
My husband knows Spanish. He learned it in college, and any time he gets the chance to practice it with native speakers, he does.
I’ve always admired him for that. When we were dating, he told me that the Spanish language says things so much prettier. For instance, he said, “te quiero de verdad,” is to say, I really love you.
Only it’s so much stronger than that. It’s the kind of love that is powerful. It’s not the “guy meets girl and bam!” kind of love.
And maybe that’s what’s missing for us in this day and age. We’re looking for quick and easy. Instant gratification is everywhere in our world.
You want a pizza, you get on your phone, and it’s delivered in a matter of minutes. Want to read a book? No need to drive to the bookstore, just pull it up on your e-reader. Our entire world is on demand.
But love isn’t available in an online catalog. It doesn’t just happen. It’s strong and it’s powerful and it requires a lot of work. When Jesus preached about love, His words were radical. They were challenging.
“To have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.”
Those are probably the vows many of us said on our wedding day. But at one time the words, “I plight thee my troth” were a part of those vows. That is, a pledge, a commitment of loyalty. I mean, just say it to yourself. Isn’t there strength in that phrase?
Before we got married, my husband tried to warn me that marriage was hard. But I was twenty-one and had on my rose-colored glasses.
He’d been married once before, that relationship ending in divorce fourteen years before we tied the knot. No one, not even the man I loved, could show me what hard meant.
And it may be that he entered our union with a good bit of cynicism while I entered it with blind hope. Somehow through God’s grace, we’ve been able to bridge the gap.
Remember When Rough
But over the years, during the rough patches, the times I thought I’d made a huge mistake (or the times I thought that he had) I remembered those words. And I realize that this is hard for a reason. Doing something hard means it must be worth doing.
And in this world where it seems like we’re all trying to tear ourselves apart, maybe I need to remember that, too. The world scares me. It makes me angry. It makes me want to give up and hide in a hole some days. But that isn’t what God commands us.
I don’t think that means we can’t disagree. Or that we can’t passionately believe in something our friends, neighbors or enemies don’t.
It just means that we must face each other first with love. Because the right kind of love is patient, is kind, does not boast, is not easily angered. Love never fails. Because love is divine, and God never fails.
Love and blessings,