Permanent or Temporary Love

By Ron

Hundreds of thousands, and probably millions of books, movies  and songs have been written about love. First love, young love, April love, summer love, December love, romantic love, sacrificial love, forbidden love, and even Biblical love. As with other things, God's definition of love is far different from societies current definition. At one time we were taught  that we loved people - and liked things. Then love was watered down to include anything one likes from ice cream to their car. Changing definitions eventually change attitudes.

One old song declared that "Love makes the world go round".  We know that the heavens declare the glory of God and their movement is in His hands. However, we cannot minimize what God saw was not good in His creation.  We crave love. Some feel that they are not loved and from earthly perception, they may not be loved. The greatest loneliness is not being alone, but unloved. It has been said that the three most powerful words in the English language are I love you.

We may describe ourselves as a "loving" person. We are all familiar with God's command in Deuteronomy 6:5 "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might" as well as the command in  Leviticus 19: 18 & 34 to love our neighbor as our self.  Jesus repeated both in His teaching. We also have commands in the New Testament for husbands and wives to love each other - Ephesians 5:25, Colossians 3:19, and Titus 2:4.

Even though we really want to obey scripture, we are in trouble aren't we. We could squeeze by if God had not used the word "all".  That "all" excludes everything else.  Loving God involves spending time with His, studying His Word, serving Him, and obeying Him with our whole being.

Too often today marriage is based on feelings. We hear of people falling in and out of love as though it was like an accident.  Feelings are definitely involved. That is why rejection hurts so much.  A man who lost one eye and one arm in Viet Nam told of being in the VA hospital and watching young women come in to see their husband for the first time. When they saw missing limbs, severe disfiguring burns, or their husband in a coma for life - some took off their wedding ring, laid it on the nightstand, and walked out. That is rejection,  and no matter what they felt at their wedding, their love was only  temporary.

Today it is popular to write ones own marriage vows, but there is a serious reason why "for better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and in health" were included. It was evident that this would be a permanent love and relationship. Our youth should not learn about love from TV or the movies, but from those who have been married over 50 years. The world does not see Christian families living in love as we should.

The average couple spends $27,000 for their wedding. That cost,  plus the reality that at least half of the marriages in America do not last,  prompts many couples to skip marriage and live together. No marriage = no divorce. In other words, "No strings attached."  In other words, ignore God's plan.

Jesus did not let us off the hook with our neighbor either when He said we are to even love our enemy - Matthew 5:43-44.

We show love by:

  * Sitting at the hospital with patients or their families.
  * Giving up something we want to do to help or witness to someone.
  * Listening to others.
  * Sharing the gospel.
  * Encouraging others.
  * Meeting others' needs.

The world would be more attracted to the church if they saw real love shared there than by the latest approach to church growth. The absence of love is a clue to our lack of effectiveness in making Christ known in our world? The supply of love within the family of God has run low and, as a consequence, the church has presented its face to the world as just another of those impersonal institutions of our day, this one majoring in morality and public worship rather than in merchandise or finance.  Instead it should present itself as a family where the members know one another, accept one another, pray with one another, laugh and weep with one another, and all because they genuinely love one another. The first century church was noted for the way they loved one another. The church is not known for that today.

Unconditional love does not ask, "What's in it for me?" Instead, unconditional love asks, "What can I do for the other person?"

There is nothing wrong with cards, flowers, candy, candlelight dinners, etc. The problem is that we tend to limit such to one day a year. We have seen what happens when people are faced with probable death.  They quickly call someone to say, "I love you."  Maybe we should talk less about love and demonstrate it on a permanent basis.