Archive for May, 2012

that which love is differs from that which love does OR love is love even before it is given away

May 17, 2012

Perhaps sometime near the 20th of March, I learned some factual things about love which I expect will benefit me in ways that I did not previously think possible.  At the beginning of the conversation that day, beginning to love someone seemed impossible to me, at the end of that conversation, beginning to love someone seemed possible to me.

The reason that beginning to love someone had previously seemed impossible was persistent and I experienced it consciously over at least seven years (7).  The following happened to me more than once:   One day during a walk (or a meal) with my mother I was telling her good things about a particular lady whom I admire, and my mother stopped me and asked me the question which I could never answer for myself or anyone else, “do you love her?” and I stopped and hesitated for a long time and said, “ah” and “um.”  The reason for this is that I had been made to understand that “love isn’t love until you give it away” (thanks to Michael W. Smith and those like him).  I also wanted to avoid being like some men who declare love to women only because they want sex.  But my primary problem with declaring love for a lady was that I felt that I first needed to have a list of generous and sacrificial things that I had done for her so that I would not be making an empty statement.  I thought that any love that I might ever have for anyone or anything would have to be worked into existence.

This is where my dad’s thought provoking conversation comes in.  My dad pointed out to me that even if I did have a long list of loving and sacrificial deeds that I had performed in the service of a lady, I would be unable to use that list to prove to God that I had ever loved her.  “How could you possibly know that?” you might ask.  Well 1 Corinthians 13:3 indicates that neither great sacrifice nor great generosity need to be accompanied by love.

“And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:3, NASB95)

I could be using that list of sacrificial and generous things as just a tool to get sex from a lady, entirely neglecting kind intentions and tender affection which, my dad pointed out, Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of New and Old Testament Words indicates are what the Bible really means when the word love appears in its English translations.

This means that love must be somehow different than doing sacrificial and generous things.  So I began, during my conversation with my dad, to think about what love is and I figured out from John 3:16 and 1 John 4:10 and Ephesians 1:4-5 that God has loved people long before they existed and long before He ever did anything for them.  “For God so loved the world that He gave…” indicates that God was loving someone before He gave anyone or anything to anyone, and that it was His love that prompted Him to do something good.

So I am happy about the possibility of imitating God by having love for someone which will prompt me to do generous and sacrificial things for her, instead of trying to figure out a way to do a bunch of generous and sacrificial things without declaring love (or receiving verbal acceptance thereof) in order that I may then declare a love that I still may or may not have.

This gives me hope that someday someone will say the following about me: “Joshua had so much tender affection for this lady, and the inclination of his heart toward her was so kind that he told her that he loved her, even before he had contributed any significant thing to her life, and he married her and he lived with her every day, working with the intention of bringing about good things for her.”