– “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.”
I John 4:7
She loves me, she loves me not, she loves me, she loves me not. I watched my cousin work his way around a wild daisy, alternating those statements until the petals were stripped. Then he lifted the last petal and announced she loves me! I asked why he did that? He said he liked a girl and wondered if she liked him.
If interpreting love was only that easy. For my cousin who questioned the daisy – he was as incapable as the flower to know if she loved him. At the tender age of 7, I got the idea that loving and liking were the same. In everyday conversations people used love and like interchangeably. They said they love or like food, they love or like people, cars, houses, jobs, or money – you name it. What I saw was this, when a person liked how someone looked, how they dressed or whatever, that perception carried the hope of romance – but liking is fickle. It can be changed to dislike by a disapproving look or a critical word. I am not saying that liking someone is wrong, it is wonderful, but relationships need more. The flesh can like but love is vital to keep the flame burning through hard times. Con artists are masters at being likable. Beware of flattering words that recruit you to an uncomfortable cause. Then there is the friendly deceiver who wants in your wallet or the charmer on a quest for Victoria’s secret. Sin and deceit like best to be called love.
The desire to be loved is constant for an infant or a senior. Love never fails, whereas, liking can be fickle. The love definition I learned in college was this, “love always seeks the highest good for the object of its affection”. God is the author of love – and love is not a feeling – love is the life flow of God through us to the world. Love comes from the heart of one person independent of others. Love can be a warm blanket of comfort and it can be tough – objectively doing what is best. Love is never motivated by anger, vengeance or selfish ambition.
That being true:
You can love someone you don’t like.
You can love someone who is hard to deal with.
But – when people like each other, love is sweet and easy.
Several years back some Californians decided they wanted contract marriages. At their ceremonies they agreed to the duties each would perform in their union. I don’t have the foggiest idea how it worked out, but that wasn’t love, it’s was a trade.
For Americans, trading is a way of life – we trade time and talent for salary, then trade money for goods and services. In a family, trading can make a home a more efficient operation. But it can be the precursor for resentments. When someone feels they got the short end of the trade – the offended party feels unloved – unappreciated. A trader gives something to get something – a loving trade requires both parties to agree then follow through. When one party does a good thing and is disappointed at the response of the other they were trading, not loving. That is called manipulation. Trading can involve the intimate part of a marriage or who takes out the trash. Trading is not love, any two people deciding to peacefully co-exist by developing a job description for each other will miss the celebration of intimacy.
For healthy unions to last through tough times, a wounded person must override their emotions and continue to love. When only one person in a relationship squelches their feelings and unconditionally loves something is very wrong and trouble lies ahead. Be a lover not a trader. Lovers are more involved in relationships than traders. Traders tend to do enough to get by.
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends”.
God revealed His love through Jesus. God is not a trader, when grace and salvation flowed to the world and you received the free gift of eternal life, you had nothing to trade. God does not answer prayer because we have earned or bartered for the answer. God loves you and God likes you. God is always seeking your best. The acts of God are not tornadoes, floods or hurricanes. God does not send cancer or other diseases to punish or correct us. It is Satan who comes to kill and destroy. It was Jesus the Son of God who healed the body, soul, and spirit of those who came to Him – because God is full of grace. Ask and you shall receive. Hallelujah.
The love of God is freely given. Freely you have received, freely give. He gives you power, the power to even love your enemies. Be the person God made you, stop fighting for a dominate place in the world.
So now abideth your likes, your trades, and your love, but the greatest of these is your love. Love is of God. Bring the kingdom of God to your world, it starts at your house.
Heb. 10:24 “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works.”