Thursday, April 7, 2011

I Love You.......But

  "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth." 1 John 3:16-18

Have you ever been in church and heard the song "I Love You With the Love of the Lord?" or had someone say to you 'I love you with the love of the Lord'? I have and I sincerely hope that the person saying it actually does because if they truly love me with the same love that the the Lord shows to us, then I am most blessed. We are to love one another to the same extent that Christ loves us, that is agape love.

Christ laid down His life for us. He died for us and John is telling us here in these verses that we ought to do the same for one another. It's easy to say 'I love you' but we have to show that love by dying to self and seeing to the needs of the other person. That is true love. If a person is always saying 'I love you' but is selfish and bullish in their actions, their words won't ring true. Their actions must back up their words, otherwise the words are empty of meaning.

We are to show our love at every possible moment and that includes with our words, our actions and our attitudes. I have heard of churches which have split over something people couldn't come into agreement about, such as the colour of the carpet or the changing of the sanctuary lights. No one was willing to lay down their own opinions for the opinions of others. Everyone had to have it their way or no way at all. That's not love. (And I can guess that they sang that little song too)

I've heard people use the excuse of 'irreconcilable differences' in a separation or divorce hearing, and although I know that every situation is different, I think the results would have been much different if each person was deferring to the other instead of themselves. If two quarreling people take a moment and lay down their agenda, lay down their opinions and their right to be heard and instead listen to the other person and let their rights be heard, things would be much different. Love does not demand it's own way.

As Christians we cannot be selfish. If we see a need that we can meet, we can't turn a blind eye and do nothing about meeting that need. That's not love. We have to put the needs of others before meeting our own needs. That is the love of Christ. Christ was not self centered. He didn't demand His own way. Many times He listened to those around Him instead of always being the One speaking. He loved us, and still does. As His followers we can do no less to those around us.

You can't win an argument by just being right. Sometimes our need to be right all the time actually loses us much more. We may win the argument but we lose a relationship. Is your need to be right or your need to be heard worth it? We might say 'oh, I'd take a bullet for that person' or 'I'd die for them' but are we really willing to lay down our life for them? Are we willing to lay down our opinions and rights for them? Do we truly love them with the love of the Lord?

If we say we love, we must follow Christ's example. It shows us that real love involves self-sacrifice. When we reach the point in our lives where we are more concerned  for the needs of others than our own needs, without any selfish motives at all, then we begin to enter into true agape love. Agape love is full of grace and mercy. It is the highest form of love; totally devoid of selfishness. This is a love that gives its time, energy and effort, and maybe even its very life in order to put the needs of others before itself. This is the love of Christ.

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