If you were to ask me to describe what I think love is in one sentence, it would be to forget about yourself.
That's all love is, really. Forgetting about yourself and putting someone else above you.
"This is how we know what love is: because Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters."
(1 john 3:16, NIV)
"Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends"
(John 15:13, NIV)
I've heard those verses a lot but I hadn't really thought a whole lot about them till lately. Whenever I read them, I only ever thought about the mission field, the army, and all the various areas where people were physically laying down their lives for other children of God. Which yeah, it fits for that.
But I've learned that laying down my life, doesn't necessarily always mean literally laying down my life. But maybe just setting aside my own desires for the benefit of someone else.
My entire faith is based off of the love that was shown so graciously to me. But yet so many times I turn around and refuse to extend that same love that was shown to me. I am learning (slowly!) to lay down my own life, because Christ laid down His life for me.
I couldn't write a blog post about love and not include 1 Corinthians 13. The looove chapter! ;) I know you've probably all heard this twenty three thousand times. But while you read this, really think about what it means. Think about the traits of love and question yourself if you're living out those traits.
"Love is patient
Love is kind
It does not envy
It does not boast
It is not proud
It does not dishonor others
It is not self seeking (!!!)
It is not easily angered
It keeps no record of wrongs
Love does not delight in evil
Love rejoices in the truth
It always protects
It always trusts
Side note: That verse right there is why it really amuses (irritates, actually.) me when young couples spill out "I love you" way too easily without committing to the traits in this verse.
Being IN love with someone and truly loving them are two very different things. Love is a big deal, people!!
But I'm not talking about mushy lovey dovey love. I'm talking about real love. A love that is full of grace, encouragement, truth, hope, and all the characteristics that were shown to us.
A love we CHOOSE even when 99% of us is nagging at us to take the easy way out.
But love is forgetting ourselves. Love is laying down those human characteristics and choosing to seek someone else instead. Definitely easier said than done.
Below is one of my favorite quotes (I sure do say that a lot, don't I??)
"We draw people to Christ not by loudly discrediting what they believe, by telling them how wrong they are and how right we are, but by showing them a light that is so lovely that they want with all their hearts to know the source of it."
Love is powerful. It changes people and it changes lives. I think a lot more emphasis should be placed for Christians to love. We should focus more on truly loving every single person God places on our path. Short term or long term. Love them. Love, love, love them. Because that is all we are created to do. To be a source reflecting back love Himself.
Love is a huge choice to make. It's hard and sometimes every bone in your body will be resisting. Although it's hard, it is so very, very powerful. I can't say that enough.
A tremendous and perfect love changed the world many, many years ago on the cross and continues to change hearts to this day.
What wonderful ways He can work in us when we choose to love despite anything else.
When we choose to lay down our lives for others.
When we choose to forget ourselves and love as Christ has loved us.
In closing, one of my favorite, favorite, faaavorite verses! 1 John 4:8:
"Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love."