A few weeks ago as I was listening to a track by Beleaf Melanin, I came across a line in which he says, “Why fall in love when you can stand in it.” I paused and seriously thought about it, and knew I had to address this sooner or later.
It was at that moment I realized that most of the time we think we know what love is when we really don’t. I mean the phrase “fall in love” seems harmless and on point, but did you ever think about where that phrase came from or what it really means?
Our minds have been so poisoned that we often don’t notice that we have a warped view of what love is, especially in relation to the opposite sex.
What I want to do here is give you something from what I’ve been learning from experience, observation and studies about love.
If you know anything about my history you’d know that I received an Honors award in heartbreakery and infatuation, which is a prestigious award for the foolish and ignorant. I’ve broken hearts and been heartbroken all because I thought I knew what love was when I really didn’t. Even after Christ gave me a new heart I still thought wrongly about love, and in the process hurt myself and others around me. I remember often asking myself how long I’d keep moving in the same cycle, liking the same girls, and ending up in the same trashy pile I just came from. I was ready to give up on love entirely, it seemed hopeless and empty, because I thought as long as I had anything to do with hearts there would be a crack straight down the middle. I was tired of this, and I desperately needed a break.
If you’ve ever gone swimming and tried to keep your breath under water and eventually come up to breathe, you’d know the feeling of relief and a rare appreciation for air. When I discovered the true meaning of love it felt like a breath of fresh air as it filled up my lungs and gave me life. When I found Joshua Harris, he gave me not just a fresh view but a biblical and Christ centered perspective or outlook on love. He along with people like Elisabeth Elliot, Randy Alcorn and a few others helped shape my view on relationships, marriage and of course love. I had to correct quite a few wrongs, which included seeking forgiveness from girls whose hearts I had broken and living in repentance of my mistakes. Unfortunately I had to learn the hard way. Do I regret those mistakes? Yes I do, I wish I could rewrite my story, but what’s done is done. By God’s grace I lived to learn from my mistakes, and pray someone learns from mine.
As I learnt what love really is, I also learnt what it isn’t. The world has its own view of love which I had believed for so long, and had allowed to corrupt me. The world’s view of love is as follows:
1.) Love is for the fulfillment and comfort of self. It’s all about me, and what I want.
2.) Love is a feeling. It’s all about the warm fuzzy feeling you feel tickling your heart when it skips a beat every time you see that special someone. If that feeling is not there, then it’s not love.
3.) Love is uncontrollable. I can’t control my feelings; they just happen and control everything about and around me.
It’s scary how we probably think along these lines when we try to define what love is, when in actual fact these points describe what love isn’t. So at this point you may be asking what love is. If it’s not primarily a feeling what is it?
To properly understand love we need to go to the one thing that cannot make a mistake, is inerrant, and all sufficient for everything, yes even about love, and that one thing is the Word of God.
The Bible is a book about love, from beginning to end, telling the greatest love story ever, about The King who graciously died for people that didn’t deserve it (Rom 5:8). All those who find forgiveness and life through Christ are called to follow in His steps, to love others because He first loved us (1 John 4:19)
Through His perfect example, Christ taught that:
1.) Love is the fulfillment of self but for the glory of God and good of others.
True love is completely selfless, it gives, sacrifices, and dies to its own needs (John 15:13). Jesus died for us, and so we need to be willing to die for others.
2.) True love is not measured or governed by feelings. True love always expresses itself in obedience to God and service to others. Jesus says in John 14:15 that if we love Him we’ll keep His commands.
3.) Love is under our control. Jesus chose to love us by choosing to lay His life down for us. I once read that the danger of believing that you “fall in love” is that it also means you can “fall out of love” just as unexpectedly.
Some of you may say that this sounds cliché and unreal, besides Christians have been known to be the cheesiest people with the cheesiest lines, and all because they don’t see life for what it really is. Most people who have this view are the same people who end up getting screwed by ‘love’ and never learn from their mistakes, because they’ve never known what real love is. And trust me, once you understand what real love is it changes your life forever.
“When we extract the poison of self-love, our entire motivation in relationships is transformed…more changes occur when we seek to love with Christ’s love” – Joshua Harris
So what does this look like in practice in our everyday lives? This may sound very theoretical, but what does it look like before our eyes?
Let’s take an example of two people, Steve and Courtney who like each other deeply but before they just throw themselves into a relationship, they critically analyze themselves and ask themselves these questions:
1.) What is my real intention for getting into this relationship? Is it to satisfy my lusts or my feelings? Is it because of social pressure?
2.) Am I awakening feelings that I won’t be able to meet with equal commitment?
3.) If we get into a relationship is it going to help or harm the other persons walk with God?
4.) If we do get into a relationship at this moment, will someone end up getting hurt?
5.) Do I have a correct view of marriage?
6.) Am I thinking about myself or doing what’s best for her/him?
7.) Am I doing this just because I have feelings for her/him?
These are some hard questions to ask, and some of them painful, but it’s all for the good of others, the glory of God, and your joy. Don’t let feelings guide you, but instead let your feelings be guided by truth and true love (which is not primarily a feeling but an action of goodwill towards another person backed by commitment). Love is a service to and for someone else, and we need not go any further than 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 to understand this.
Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not arrogant. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. Love never fails.
This is love, it is pure, perfect, long-lasting, true and God honoring. Love is a commitment; it’s sincere, unselfish, and responsible. It’s not about what I can get, but about what I can give. It starts with understanding Christ’s love and responding to it, and expresses itself in how we love one another.
Pursue this kind of love, and don’t let the world falsely define for you what they think love is.