Messy: What Real Love Looks Like
But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” — Matthew 22:34-40, ESV
Last week, Pastor Scott talked about the third relationship hidden in the greatest commandment, and how that relationship determines how you can love other people.
Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. For this, “you shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, “you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. — Romans 13:8-10, NASB
This One Thing: Real Love
In Romans 13, Paul cites four commandments as examples of the Old Testament law:
- Don’t commit adultery
- Don’t murder
- Don’t steal
- Don’t covet
But when we do the one thing—love—it fixes all the “don’t”s. So many religions and religious leaders spend so much energy focusing on all the the things we can’t or shouldn’t do, but love covers it all. If someone loves his neighbor, he doesn’t sleep with his wife or kill him or steal from him or covet his life.
What is Real Love?
It doesn’t have to be a warm fuzzy feeling; real love is more.
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. — 1 Corinthians 13:4-5, NIV
1. Real Love Honors
If your house was on fire and you could grab one thing on the way out, what would you take? We protect the things we value and honor. It’s easy to make something common, but no one is common to God.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. — Philippians 2:3, ESV
Real love honors. It says, “You are valuable.”
2. Real Love is Not Self-Seeking
Love doesn’t have its own agenda; it says, “You go first.” Instead of asking someone to support your dream, love asks how you can support someone else.
And that means that someone else’s sin or disobedience doesn’t change your behavior. Real love is not dependent on someone’s appreciation or thankfulness or reciprocity. Love inconveniences itself.
3. Real Love is Not Easily Angered
Love does not have a short fuse; it doesn’t react—it responds.
But we live in a society that thrives on anger. Social media escalates every disagreement to the Nth degree, so how do we deal with those things? We don’t have to avoid every hot button issue, but examine your heart before you engage. Why does it make you so angry?
When we yell, we reveal ourselves. We reveal what’s inside of us.
That person that bothers you is also sanctifying you—if you let God do the work.
4. Real Love Does Not Keep a Record of Wrong
People tend to keep a record of the wrongs done to them … but we don’t often keep a record of the wrongs we do to other people. It doesn’t mean we have to “forgive and forget.” Because we never really forget, do we? It comes up from time to time, but real love chooses to forgive every. time.
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. — Ephesians 4:32, ESV
Think about it: Why is it harder to say, “I forgive,” than, “I’m sorry.” It’s harder to forgive, because when we forgive, we step into God’s role and do a God thing. “I forgive you,” closes a chapter and an issue.
Whoever covers an offense seeks love,
but he who repeats a matter separates close friends. — Proverbs 17:9, ESV
Forgiveness is the way of real love. Remembering an offense destroys relationships. One of the greatest lies of all time is that, “time heals all wounds.” It’s an excuse for not apologizing and not forgiving, because words matter. It’s easier to stay silent and hope it goes away, but it doesn’t. Time does not heal wounds, forgiveness does.
What Real Love Looks Like
This one thing covers all the hundreds of don’ts we feel like we have to remember and obey. Just love people. And remember that real love looks like these four things:
- Love honors
- Love is not self-seeking
- Love is not easily angered
- Love does not keep a record of wrongs
Which one are you going to work on this week? Choose the one that needs the most work, or just start at the top of the list. Write yourself a Post-It note. Take a picture and save it as the lock screen on your phone. Post it in your car or at your desk. Leave a comment on this post for some extra accountability.
But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. — 1 John 1:7, NLT