1 Corinthians 13:4-7
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 but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
When I was in elementary school, candy conversation hearts were the gift to give on Valentine’s Day. Before the age of computers and the internet the young people of the world communicated their feelings with a candy heart! Not only was it candy, but you could thoughtfully choose what expression you wanted to share with a person. If someone gave you a heart that said BE GOOD or SMILE, it wasn’t much. You could eat those! But, if a MARRY ME or a KISS ME candy came your way, that was serious business! We hung on to those, because they held a near promise of love!
As we grow up, we learn a whole lot about love. The good and the heartbreak. Sometimes we narrowly define love as only an intense emotion or a passionate desire for someone. When chasing after only this kind of love, we can easily fall into the trap of trying to earn the love of others around us by how we look, what we do, or the things we say. When we do this, love becomes like those candy hearts; small, easily broken, and lacking substance.
In Scripture, there are different kinds of love. The love called Agape is the highest level. Agape is not a feeling, it’s an action. It is selfless, sacrificial, and not contingent on any value. It is the perfect definition of the immeasurable love of God. It is His ongoing concern for lost and fallen people. It is undeserved and without any conditions. And as Scripture tells us, love is the essence of God, for God IS love. We cannot win it, we cannot earn it, and we cannot buy it. We rejoice in this Advent season that this perfect love came down to earth and poured over us when we didn’t deserve it. Agape rescued us.
1 John 4:8-11
He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
As 1 John tells us, our role as children of God is to love as He loved us. Those around us should not have to earn our love. They don’t even have to deserve our love!
As you celebrate the Love of God this Advent, seek out ways that you can share that love with others!
Heavenly Father, thank you for the gift of your perfect love. We give thanks that your love was more than a feeling, but the action of sending your son, Jesus, to earth. Forgive us when we don’t share that same love with those around us. Show us opportunities to teach others about true love! Amen.