Love is a personal thing or so we are told. Problems come when love is too personal. When love is all about me, bad things happen. Love must be defined by God, specifically by the work of his son, Jesus. The Holy Spirit tells us that we know what love is by how Jesus loved (1 John 3:16). By looking at Christ we see that love is other-centered, not me-centered.
This takes some radical rethinking. Love is not about what makes you feel good or happy. Love is dying to your wants, your desires. Only by loving Jesus first can anyone experience this sort of love. The Holy Spirit provides specific examples of what other-centered, true love looks like in action in I Corinthians 13:4-7. Check it out!
When love is focused on what you want, disappointment is certain to follow. There are at least two reasons for this. The first is that other people cannot possibly provide what is needed for your happiness. At some point others will fail you. They will sin against you. This is what it means to live in a world of sinners, even sinners redeemed by God’s grace. No person can provide what only God can give. The second reason is that your idea of what will please you is also tainted by sin and the fall. So what you think you will love often turns into bitterness. Your desire for pleasure will cloud your judgement about what is possible and what is wise. Your expectations will be filled with opportunities for bitterness!
But love that is focused on bringing honor to God will never disappoint. For example, your child responds to your kindness with indifference. Does his response negate your act of love? Does it make you angry and leave you questioning why you even bothered to be kind? If it did then your kindness wasn’t really love. It was an attempt to make you and your child feel good about you! However, if you know your actions were to done to being honor to God, you don’t have to be dominated by hurt. Rather you can be motivated by compassion. You can return good for evil and show that your love is not motivated by self-pleasure but by true commitment to God.
If you love biblically, then your love for others will not be diminished by their failings. This is a tremendous blessing of God and will bring stability to your life and the lives of those around you. Love really is God’s idea!