Love: What does it really mean?

“But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love. “

1 Corinthians 13:13 NIV

I have been doing a devotion lately on peace and what it means to become a peacemaker. For those who don’t know, I have dealt with stress for a long time and was diagnosed with generalized anxiety in my early twenties. I like to say I am overcoming anxiety, one day at a time. I find it slightly ironic that my middle name actually means peace, when it’s something I fight for on a daily basis. In today’s article I’ve decided to talk about love, which is at the heart of a true peacemaker. Today we’re going to look at three types of love and how loving ourselves properly can help us leave a legacy for future generations. At the end of the article there will be a video I included from Dr. Martin L. King discussing three types of love; Eros – Romantic love, Phileo – Intimate love between friends, and Agape – unconditional love. After watching the video I have two questions I would like you to think about then give an answer to. Don’t be too quick to answer, I want you to really think about it and then comment below. Additionally, I would like to know your thoughts on how we can create a revolution of love in a world full of hate.

WHAT IS LOVE?

In this day and age, especially here in the Midwest, I have noticed we use love for everything. I love this song. I love that outfit so-and-so wore yesterday. I love chocolate cake! I love {insert famous actor/musician/artist}. Ms. Tina Turner sang, “What’s love got to do with it“, Haddaway sang, “What is love“, one of my favorite groups growing up sang how love is a verb, and there are numerous songs about first love, puppy love, so on and so forth. But have you ever stopped to think about what that four letter word even means? Jesus said in the Matthew, ” ‘Love your neighbor the same as you love yourself…Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.‘ ” 1 And again in John we see, “This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends…2 So to answer our question, love is giving every part of yourself to someone unselfishly, and receiving that love back in return – not because we deserve it, but in response to the love we have given.

Right now I want you to think of someone, a parent or mentor maybe who totally accepted you and made you feel loved down to your core. Have someone in mind? Now this person may not have approved of everything you did or said, yet they always made sure you knew at the end of the day regardless of how you acted, they loved you. Let me give you another example. I loved my grandma, she had her flaws and I had mine, yet I loved her unconditionally. This kind of love went both ways of ‘ course. Growing up I knew there was never a time where I would mess up and she would look at me and say, “Angelita…” That was her nickname for me. “Angelita, that is it, you really messed up this time, I can’t love you anymore. I don’t want to have anything to do with you.” No, she always showed me love. Even when she was upset at me and when I would get into trouble, or be disobedient, she would tell me later, after having calmed down, that she loves me but was disappointed that I made the decisions I did. The same is true for us with our creator and heavenly father. Papa God loves you unconditionally. And there are three ways we can respond to this love.

Responding To Love

So how do we respond to the love we have been given by the one who created love itself?

  • Giving back the love that was given: First we get to pour that love back on Him. Just like in the example above, because I knew my grandma loved me no matter what, it made me want to love her back – flaws and all. My mom always talks about the negative side of how she grew up and how much heck my grandma gave her growing up, yet I still see the beauty in the way I was raised because I saw both sides of the coin – so to speak -, and chose to see my grandma’s heart. Because of this I didn’t have to love her back, I could have been like my mom and hardened my heart towards her. However, I wanted to love her back because she poured out her love on me everyday of my life – even in the times we were not speaking much.
  • Learning to love yourself properly: Once you have received God’s love for you, and you begin loving Him back, you start finding ways to love yourself. Now I am not saying we should walk around with a chip on our shoulders and become conceited. What I am talking about here is asking God to show us how to see ourselves the way He sees us. This shouldn’t make me feel I am better than anyone, it should make me confident in His love for me. In 1 Corinthians we see that upon giving our lives to Jesus Christ and following Him, we become temples of the Holy Spirit. This means the third part of the trinity, a part of God, lives within us. Check this out; “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself” 3 How cool is that? In the days when the Bible was first being written I bet Moses and people like King David wished they could have experienced this even a little bit! Knowing that we have the Holy Spirit living inside us should cause us to want to take better care of ourselves…inside and out. Now I can’t say I do this all the time….but lately I have been trying to get healthier spiritually, mentally, physically, and emotionally. By doing that, we are keeping our temple clean and habitable for God. (If this still doesn’t make sense no worries I will discuss this in another post.)
  • Extending love to others: Finally, the last step we should take after receiving God’s love, giving it back to Him, and learning to love ourselves, we should extend that love to others. Now, I know you must be thinking, “Yea right Angie, that is better said than done!” Trust me I know! There are those I love, and then there are some that I have to love in faith because it is a work in progress. However as the Bible says, ” ‘If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their fellow believers.'” 4 In other words, if we truly love God like we say we do, then we will work to love his creation as well – flaws and all!

In conclusion, I want to pose two questions I was asked during my study on being a peacemaker. Now before you ramble off an answer I want you to think about it, research it if you have to, and then watch this clip below as you think on your answers. Some of you might not know this, but Dr. Martin Luther King wasn’t just a great motivational speaker or one of the founders for the black rights movements in the past, he was a god-fearing man who happened to be a pastor. I encourage you to watch the video and listen with an open heart. After the video is over I would like to know your thoughts and read your answers to the questions I list below. Ready for the questions?

Question 1: Love is at the heart of every peacemaker, therefore, how can we love others who believe different than we do.

Question 2: Before I ask this question I want to give some context. In the devotion this article is based off of, I learned how true peacemakers don’t just walk in love with others, they stand in the gap for them. This means you refuse to take sides and instead stand in the middle – be objective. In saying that; what do you think it means to stand in the gap for others, and how can you practice that in today’s world?

The Three Types Of Love – Dr. Martin Luther King

I look forward to reading your comments. Until next time,

Angie

Sources:

  1. Matthew 22:37,39 ERV

2. John 15:11-15 MSG

3. 1 Corinthians 6:19 NLT

4. 1 John 4:20-21 NLT

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