Join Blog Contributor Rachel, from Yeshua’s Roots, as she discusses the real meaning of love.
Ah February, the month of love filled with flowers, chocolates, and expectations, but do we really know what love is?
Many believe that love is a feeling, that it is should be something easy, or even an accident, “falling in love” right? Is that really all it is though? I would offer that those things can be some of the symptoms of love, but that ultimately, love itself is a choice, an action taken by one with hopes it will be reciprocated or at very least received by another.
So often we see the stories of misplaced love. The vulnerability that comes with giving more than you should to the wrong person, or believing that the one you are with is perfect despite the problems that are so obvious to everyone else. Or worse, that you can change them for the better. We forget that people are fallible and innately selfish to some degree and that it is not for us to change another person, only ourselves.
Wow, Rachel, you are a major buzzkill! I mean, I like the romance of Valentine’s Day and the expectations that come with it, but you make it sound like love is nothing like that.
The Imperfections of Love
Yes, yes I am, but for a reason. You see, I’ve learned some very rough truths about earthly love the hard way. I’ve seen or experienced everything I just mentioned and then some in my life. Being married to someone who is a good man has made a huge difference for me, but even with how amazing he is, things are still not perfect, and I no longer expect them to be.
I’ve come to realize that he is a person, and I am a person, and we have been given little people to care for which stirred all together is a lot of imperfection in one house. We all love each other very much, but inside of each of us is still that little bit of selfishness, that little bit of wanting things our own way. Honestly, that affects the quality of what we have to offer each other and can definitely affect the way we feel about each other.
The Perfections of Love
It ultimately all boils down to this, the only one capable of perfect love is Yeshua!
Now that said, I am not trying to say that we should all just accept the crummy situations that happen sometimes. Those things that I mentioned before aren’t healthy or good for us, and I don’t believe that Yah, who loves us perfectly would want us to jump into, or remain in bad relationships solely because nobody else is perfect anyway. (I’m not saying to divorce him because after 10 years he still leaves his socks on the floor either, just to be clear.)
Yeshua modeled the perfect love He has for us with the understanding that it was the goal, the standard we should hold for love. It isn’t to dishearten us when things aren’t perfect, but to encourage us to strive towards that perfection.
He knows that we will make mistakes from time to time, that’s why He also taught us forgiveness. He also knew that forgiveness was just one part of the growing process, that we would need to know what we should actually be doing. What does that all look like though?
A Brief Look At Biblical Love
Quick note: Realistically, it isn’t feasible to give an in-depth understanding of biblical love in a single blog post, and I’m not going to try. This is simply a few examples as food for thought.
We know that His love for us provides for our needs.
Matthew 6:33 “But seek first the kingdom of YAHWEH and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (verses 25-34 demonstrate “all these things as earthly needs.”)
I love that this verse shows more than just provision, but relationship. Yes, Yah cares about our needs, AND He asks that we seek His kingdom. He doesn’t want to be some sugar daddy doling out whatever we want, but He wants us to want Him for who He is. To seek His needs and wants at the same time.
Love isn’t supposed to be one-sided. When we stop pursuing each other, we often lose sight of the person we love, instead giving way to apathy and even laziness. Yah has moved through time pursuing us, what an example!
The complete section of this next scripture is Ephesians 5:22-33.
Ephesians 5:28-29 “So, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies, (he loving his wife loves himself), for then no one hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, even also as our Master does to the Congregation.”
His provision and care for us are evident throughout creation. The sun and moon are exactly where we need them to be. The waters and land provide food, and medicine for our bodies. Our bodies themselves are designed, knitted together for a specific purpose. Looking around at what Yah has given us (not what man has done with it.. Totally different post.) it is everything we need, and then some!
We know that He requires fidelity.
Exodus 20:3-6 “You shall not have any other Elohim before My face. You shall not make a graven image for yourself, or any likeness in the heavens above, or in the earth beneath, or in the waters under the earth; you shall not bow to them, and you shall not serve them; for I am YAHWEH your Elohim, a jealous El, visiting the iniquity of fathers on sons, on the third and on the fourth generation, to those that hate Me; and doing kindness to thousands, to those loving Me, and to those keeping My commandments.”
This doesn’t have to mean physically cheating on one another, but can be anything that takes unnecessary priority in the relationship, for a mental picture, think of it as idols. If we are constantly putting something or someone else before the other person, how can we expect to have a healthy relationship?
Naturally, we can’t discuss love without a bit of 1 Corinthians 13.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 “Love has patience, is kind; love is not envious; love does not make a vain display of itself, and does not boast; it does not behave indecently, does not pursue its own things, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth. Love quietly covers all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. But if there are prophecies, they will be caused to cease; if languages, they shall cease; if knowledge, it will be caused to cease.”
Peace in Obedient Love
As a teen, I was taught to superimpose someone’s name in the place of love throughout these verses. Something like, “Rachel has patience, is kind; Rachel is not envious…” to see how true it was of anyone I was interested in. The rose-colored glasses of someone feeling the starts of love makes this an important exercise, and a hard one to do honestly.
Since I learned this, I now find it important to use my own name to see where I may be falling short in my marriage. Am I lacking in one or more areas where I may need to make more of an effort to actively love my family?
Relationships do require both sides to make an effort. You can’t make the other person want to do the same things just because you are. And, I can’t tell you how to make your particular relationship work well. What I will say is that the majority of people will respond positively to positive experiences. When we change ourselves to follow what Yah has shown us to do because He has said to, there is peace in obedience.
Ultimately, it all boils down to a basic concept, love is a verb! We must make the choice to be active in our love of our families. Make a point of knowing and seeking their needs, and working on changing where we have shortcomings. It isn’t always easy, but isn’t love worth the fight?
CHIME IN: How do you live love out loud? What are some obstacles you had to (or still have to) navigate? Share in the comments below!