1. How do I exhibit Love in my daily life?
2. What can I do to develop a more loving attitude?
3. What blocks love from being expressed in me?
4. How can I make love function better, stronger, and faster, even in times of uncertainty and stress?
The General idea of Love (John 13:1; 15:13; 1 Corinthians 13:3; 1 John) will enable us to appreciate our brothers and sisters in the Lord, and, of course, our family and others around us. Love is taking the initiative to build up and meet the needs of others without expecting anything in return. Love desires to seek and apply what God has to say. It also runs the full spectrum from romanticism and the quest for personal satisfaction, to God, and the meaning of life. And, when you have the wrong idea and definition of love, it will adversely impose on all those areas in your life. What love is not is as important as what love is!
The opposite is Hate, Lust, and Disgust. It covers the areas from disliking people who are different to deliberately seeking malice and destruction of what the Lord has for us! Not having real love will leave you empty and alone. Lust is not just the opposite it is the counterfeit!
· Here are positive examples from Scripture (1 Sam. 20:17; Matt. 13:35; 1 John 4)
· Here are negative examples from Scripture (Matt. 6:5; 23:6; 1 John 4:19; Rev. 2:4)
How would you define Love?
Would you rather love, or be loved?
Look at 1 Corinthians 13:3. How does your practice of love compare to this passage?
Can you give an example from your life?
When have you loved the best?
In what situation did you fail to love when you should have?
What issue is in your life that would improve with more love?
Think through the steps you need to take to put love into action in a specific instance or to improve it. Consider examples such as a person who is mean to you at work, or a distant relative, or a neighbor with whom you may not get along. Write a love letter to your spouse, or, if you are not married, to a pretend spouse, with the points you have learned so far.
Most people assume that love is the most important thing in a marriage, or the most important reason to get married! You will frequently hear people in TV, in the movies, out on the streets of life and even in the church saying, I do not need to work on love and relationships, it will just happen. And, if not, it was not meant to be, and I can get out of it if it does not work out. How sad that philosophy is! But, when you carefully examine love from the Bible, you will find that it is a choice over and against any feeling or aspiration of what we may want it to be or mean (Colossians -17; 1 Thessalonians 4:9-10; 5:8-13).
Love is a choice that also happens in a seemingly magical and metaphysical way, as poets have tried to explain it throughout the millennias. But, is that it? The Bible tells us that love is more than a feeling; it has segments and characters to it. Love is also a choice, a decision that must be perused and worked on. In our human mind, we may see it as magical, as if it "just happened," but, without pursuing its true meaning and character, it will dispel and waste away. So, when we do receive that spark of love that we cannot explain, to keep that magic, that romance, that spark going requires us to do something about it. If we do not work on it, the spark that was once there will vanish as quickly and as suddenly as it came. It will fade into the night, leaving us in the darkness of the maze of relationships, lost and confused. The way we keep that flame from blowing out is our understanding and modeling the character of love. So, as it becomes contagious and spreads, it flames and excites, burns and grows, so the winds of the ups and downs of a relationship will not blow it out!
We do not necessarily fall in love as the love songs and movies proclaim, because, you may well fall out of it, faster than you fell in it! If you never choose to make it a commitment, with love, you will never have it, or, if you do, you will not keep it! Love is a verb; it requires action that is implied for being a verb, action to do something with it. What are you doing with it? Are the precepts of 1 Corinthians 13 being put into action with your friends, family, acquaintances, and your spouse? If not, what is in the way of that verb action?
If you ask most couples who are thinking about marriage, or who are already engaged, why they are getting married, they usually will say: "Why, we're in love." It has been through studying the Word, plus, over twenty years of pastoral counseling experience, that has prompted me to question the validity of this motive. Yes, love is essential and powerful! However, if that is all you have, you will end up with nothing! The number one mistake people make when they date is to look just for love. The number one mistake married couples make is thinking that their love is all they need. This puts their brains "on hold" from everything else. Yes, love is putting the precepts of 1 Corinthians 13 into action, but most people, including Christians, do not even know what real love is! Choosing a life partner should never be based on love alone. A marriage cannot last on love alone. This may sound like crazy talk, but think it through. Have you ever seen a relationship work with just love? No, not for movie or TV stars who have everything going for them, not for the singers who sing about it, and not even for the Beatles! Because, they do not know what love is, nor do they really put it into practice.
Have you ever known some to get married to someone they did not love? Most, if not all, people who get married do it for love, yet, according to most statistical evidence, fifty percent will divorce in less than five years. So, what happened to the love? If love is all we need, should not it have worked? Why did it not work? Because, there never was real love, they misunderstood what love is, or, they had nothing but love. Perhaps they let that spark of love flame out in neglect, so that there was a huge vacuum in their relationship! Love should not be the horse in front of the cart. Love alone cannot influence a relationship. Love needs to be a result, not a cause, for getting married. Love is the result of a good marriage, not the fuel to make it. Love is an attitude that is followed by action; when this does not happen, love will sit and go nowhere.
God's love must be our model for life. It must flow into us from Christ, and in return flow out from us to those around us. God's love is the ultimate power for the Christian. We are to be fueled and empowered by love in all situations. Christian love is the turning of our backs to self-concerns, and facing our neighbors. It is the surrender of our will to His. Because, if love does not take us beyond our self-interests, then what we have is lust, not love! As the passage of 1 Corinthians 13:3 would say, we become just a noise that has no reason or purpose. Out of true love, God the Father gave us His Son, and the Son gave His life in replacement for ours. The Son sent the Spirit to save us, and we should be literally overwhelmed-consumed--with extreme joy and gratitude for what God has done for us.
Remember; "Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant." (NAS) What love is not is as important as what love is! Be aware that we will be held accountable and even judged on what we do not do or refuse to see when sin and pride are in the way (Matt. 23:27; Luke 19:42)!