Guardrails is a series that basically shows you the importance of setting up boundaries, of protecting yourself from crossing a point and looking back later with regret, of not stopping yourself soon enough, getting too close to temptation and then living with the consequences of stepping over the line.
Anyway, two weeks ago and this past week Pastor Jeff spoke about the guardrails needed around marriages, around couples. It gave me lots to think about, most that doesn’t really relate to what I normally write about here but what he did say that relates here, that I want to reflect on here is that love is not a feeling.
Wow… it’s not??? I sure thought it was. I thought that love was something I felt, that I needed to feel in order to experience life to the fullest. It’s not a feeling ? It’s not an emotion? Most of the world would disagree. Ask any ’lovestruck’ young adult , ok any young female, LOL, early on in a relationship and you will probably get an enthusiastic answer filled with the affirmation of how wonderful it is to ‘be in love’ and ‘how amazing they feel’…might even be enough sweetness in the statement to cause you to go into sugar shock. Ask anyone who has been in a relationship or married for a while though and the answer may not be quite that certain, quite that positive. Most will quickly tell you that yes love includes emotions but not exactly the emotions people always associate with the common understanding of love. Yes, most certainly emotion, feeling, plays a big part in what we call love but is it all there is? Do we even realize the forms of love that have been spoken about since biblical times? Do we remotely understand the ‘love’ God built into each one of us….
Here is what I found on ‘about.com’
Eros is the physical, sensual love between a husband and wife. Although this Greek term does not appear in the bible, eros, or erotic love, is portrayed in the Old Testament book, The Song of Solomon. God is very clear in his Word. Sex outside of marriage is forbidden.
God created humans male and female and instituted marriage in the Garden of Eden. Within marriage, sex is used for emotional and spiritual bonding and for reproduction.
The Apostle Paul noted that it is wise for people to marry to fulfill their godly desire for this type of love:
Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion. (1 Corinthians 7:8-9, NIV)
Storge is family love, the bond among mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers. Storge is the natural love and affection of a parent for their child.
As with eros, this Greek term does not appear in the Bible. However, many examples of family love are found in Scripture, such as the love and mutual protection among Noah and his wife, their sons and daughters-in-law in Genesis; the love of Jacob for his sons; and the strong love the sisters Martha and Mary in the gospels had for their brother Lazarus.
The family was a vital part of ancient Jewish culture. In the Ten Commandments, God charges his people to:
Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you. (Exodus 20:12, NIV)
Philia means close friendship or brotherly love in Greek. It is one of the four types of love in the Bible. It is the root of the name of the ‘city of brotherly love’,
. Philia and other forms of this Greek noun are
found throughout the New Testament. Christians are frequently exhorted to love
their fellow Christians: Philadelphia
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. (Romans 12:10 ESV)
Agape is selfless, sacrificial, unconditional love, the highest of the four types of love in the Bible. This Greek word and variations of it are found throughout the New Testament. Agape perfectly describes the kind of love Jesus Christ has for his Father and for his followers:
Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them. (John 14:21, NIV)
And the more I thought about the various types of love and Pastor Jeff’s comment that love is not a feeling I began to wonder just what we really understand about love and feelings. There are likely hundreds, if not thousands of references to love in the bible.
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.
Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'
It says love God, love your neighbor, do this with all your heart and soul. It doesn’t say when your neighbor makes you ‘feel’ angry that you don’t ‘feel’ love towards them. It is pretty simple…love and never stop because God loves us and never stops.
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us.
Exactly…we know how to love because God first loved us. He didn’t teach us to ‘feel’ love, he taught us to love… no conditions. He showed us that there is no fear in love and fear is a feeling…
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.
Love goes beyond ‘feelings’ it doesn’t’ get trapped by feelings. It doesn’t say ‘yeah well that guy looks like someone I can’t trust, he does things I don’t believe in or agree with, he isn’t a Christian’… no where does the bible tell us those things but everywhere it tells us to lay down our lives for those God loves because Jesus did that for us.
However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
Hmmm…and now we get into a real tough area. How often have you heard someone who is struggling in their marriage say ‘well I love her but I am not IN love with her’ or ‘I just don’t feel like I love him anymore’. God never said it would be easy and he also NEVER said love was about feelings. He said it was about commitment, about dedication. The most common scripture read at a wedding is likely this one…
1 Corinthians 13 4-8a, 13
4 Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
5 It does not dishonor others,
it is not self-seeking,
it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Anyone read in there anywhere ‘love is like this until you don’t ‘feel’ it anymore and then it just goes away’. Yeah…nope, not there. This ain’t
folks, this is no Harlequin romance.
It’s life, it’s real and nowhere has it been said that it should be a
walk in the park. paints love ‘as a sensational, sensation demanding,
self-centered, self-fulfilling, demanding kind of love. A lazy form of love
that places the responsibility on others. True love is so much more. It is
noble and pure in the truest and most undiluted sense.’ Hollywood
Is the above passage a tall order, a lot to live up to? Heck yes! Difficult? Intensely so! But is it impossible? Well I guess the answer is yes, if we leave it up to us and our strength, but we were never asked to do that. Never did God say ‘here is what I command you to do in regards to love. No go and do it and don’t you dare come to me for help with it’ . If we learn to rely on Him, to lean on him and the power of the Holy Spirit then the task of loving others is not so daunting.
True love is work… whether that is the love for our partner, our spouse etc or the love for a family member, a child, a co-worker, a neighbour…the list goes on and on. God never promised us a life of ease but he did promise us salvation. Scripture is clear that we cannot gain our salvation by what we do but Scripture is equally clear that living for Christ as His witnesses and followers includes being willfully obedient. And being willfully obedient includes following what God says about marriage and divorce…
"Consequently they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate."
Matthew 19:9 ESV / 86 helpful votes
And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”
Malachi 2:15-16 ESV / 4 helpful votes
Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.”
Love endures all things and it is a commitment, not a feeling. You can’t just ‘bail’ when it gets too tough, you can’t just find another when you aren’t getting what you thought you would from the love commitment you made before God. I am sure it was no mistake that this sermon was presented on Mother’s Day…a day to celebrate the love that we have for our mother’s and, usually a day for families. Traditionally families come together from the love of a man and a woman, a husband and a wife. Two people who made a commitment to each other…a commitment to love, honour and cherish each other to the end of their lives. Two people who committed to love each other enough that they would, together, raise a child or two or more together. When love becomes a feeling and not a commitment, a thing of patience, kindness, perseverance hope, trust and honour, then we hear ‘we are doing this for the kids, we fight too much to give them the life they deserve’. But the life they deserve involves love and love involves commitment…you can’t just give up.
I pray that each and every one of you can find love, can make a commitment to love others as God requires us to and that you can put feelings aside, no, that you can take them out of the equation and follow the instructions of God, honour the commitments you have made.
All of this seems to tie into marriage and relationships and that is very much what this is sermon was about but it also made me think about love in general and how hard it can be for people to understand love. Those 4 types of love that I researched are a vital part of each of our lives and given that this sermon was presented on Mother’s Day it did make me think of the love we have for our children. Mother’s Day, as I said before, is a day to honour mother’s… and a day for mother’s to focus on how awesome it is to be a mom. And like so many other moms out there I can’t help on Mother’s Day but reflect on the fact that all who call me mom are not with me here on earth. For some reason it is day that I find harder then some, that I miss Cole more then on the average day. That Storge love, that natural love and affection of a parent for their child, just seems to creep up on me on days like that. Most just don’t understand that either I don’t think. They understand Storge love, that love for a child that is so intense, so unending, so all consuming. Butt tey don’t understand that Storge love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres, that Storge love never fails even if that child that is so loved isn’t here. They are forever here in our hearts. If it is to be understood that love is something that has to be worked at and is never easy then it should be equally understood that learning to live without someone you love is also something that has to be worked at and is never easy.
I am so blessed to have been given these four gifts of love and I vow to put in the effort that love requires everyday.