Today is the last blog post in the Girl Talk series that I started four Saturdays ago. The first week dealt with how to become The Ms. Independent Christian Woman, week two talked about Cleaning Out the Friend‘s List, and last week I discussed the importance of having a good name and legacy in the post Remember My Name. Before now I did not feel the need to touch one of the most talked about subject to women, which is the subject of love; however, love matters. Whether we are talking about love between family members, friends, or spouses, somehow that idea of what love really is has been diluted and lost in this generation. How is it that the one thing everyone seeks for and desires the most is also the one thing that is misunderstood the most? We have become a hurting and lonely generation because we are searching for something we have NOT yet become. Love, as you’ve probably heard many times, is not a feeling. Love is the conscious decision to become someone who not only looks past the imperfections of the object of your love, but then extends grace to that someone by treating them as though they are perfect and deserving of your affection. We can agree that that is the definition of love because that’s exactly what God has done for us and the Word of God lets us know that God IS love(1 John 4:8). The Father decided to look past all of our sins and send His Only Begotten Son to die a death He did not deserve just to redeem us back to Himself. He then went further by allowing us to have a relationship with Him wherein He showers us with new mercies and tender kindness each day.No one is deserving of such a gesture, yet the Lord did it. As a result, God is in a position where He can ask us to love Him with all of our heart, soul, strength and mind (Luke 10:27) because He has freely given us the exact thing He is asking from us. The Bible tells us that we love Him because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). God become love first and that is why it is easy for us to reciprocate that love. In the same way, we ourselves must first become love before we can give love and before we can know for certainty that what we are being offered from others is in fact, love. So, let’s become love.
1. Be Genuinely Kind and Humble
“[Love] suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up”-1 Corinthian 13:4
There’s no room in a relationship, a courtship, or a marriage for both pride and love because there’s an aspect of true love that requires vulnerability. To be kind and humble is to subject yourself to a very vulnerable state because you cannot guarantee that your heart will not be taken for granted neither can you guarantee that you will be appreciated. What is important to remember is that God still expects us to love and to do our part in our relationships even if our actions are not being reciprocated. If we want to mirror the perfect love of God here on earth between two imperfect people, we cannot base our actions on what the other person does. The Bible tells us, “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He is not able to deny Himself” (2 Timothy 2:13). Despite the many times we’ve failed God, sinned, and ran away from Him, God has remained faithful in His love for us. He hasn’t given us the silent treatment because we did not text back fast enough, He hasn’t started petty fights just to stir up an argument, and He hasn’t stop providing for us just to prove that without Him we wouldn’t make it in life. His love is constant irrespective of what we are doing. If God’s love is the standard, then we must cultivate the habit of showing kindness even when we don’t feel our spouses deserve it and being humble enough to realize that sometimes in order for peace to reign you may have to be the bigger person. The Bible says that as long as it depends on you, live at peace with all men (Romans 12:18) and that is where the long suffering of love comes into play. If it depends on you, choose peace, choose to encourage him (1 Thessalonians 5:11), and choose to answer him with soft answers (Proverbs 15:1). In the midst of all these vulnerabilities, if we become one who can show kindness without strings attached, then we may be able to experience a glimpse of the type of love God intended.
2. Be Selfless, Not Selfish
“[Love] does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth”- 1 Corinthians 13:5-6
To experience love, we must stop being ourselves. It may first appear that losing yourself in a relationship is a bad thing, but in the eyes of the Lord, holding on to yourself keeps you from love. The reason why we must deny ourselves is because the Word of the Lord tells us that, “because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:7-8). The flesh, or self, cannot do the things of God. Infact according to the Scripture the flesh is hostile towards the law of God. Naturally, we are rude people, we are self-centered people, we would rather be happy than to strive to make others happy, and we have a nature that gains secrete pleasures from the downfalls of others. In a relationship or marriage, those attributes are things that will destroy any chance of experiencing love God’s way. We must crucify our flesh and that often times involves learning how to forgive. Another version of the above Scripture says that love keeps no record of wrong meaning we must become the type of people who will not use mistakes from five years ago to justify our decision not to extend love. We are to become people who are more concern about others than ourselves. The Bible says, ” Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interest, but also for the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4). This same principle is demonstrated in our relationship with God for Christ must increase and we must decrease (John 3:30), therefore again if the love of God is the standard, we have to be willingly to daily let go of self, and put on more of Christ. It will take time to reach God’s level of Selflessness, but we can start by praying for someone else in our daily prayers or making coffee for our spouses though we don’t drink coffee.
3. Be All Things
” [Love] bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things”- 1 Corinthians 13:7
You cannot be everything to everyone, but you can be something to someone. In relationships we look for specific Bible pharases to support our decision not to do something by stating, “show me where in the Bible it says I should…”, but God in His infinite wisdom covered all issues under the phrase “all things”. In order to fully become the love we seek, we must do those things that are not explicitly stated in the Word of God if the Holy Spirit is prompting you to do such. If we want our husbands or the men we are in courtship with to love us as Christ loves His church (sacrificially and unconditionally), we must be ready to become the woman that can bear their imperfections, believe in their dreams, hope for the future, and endure the down times that will come even if there are no specific rules stating all those things as requirements. The Bible says, “finally brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Philippians 4:8). Every relationship will be different therefore do not make someone else’s relationship your “relationship goals”; instead, strive to be the things that your relationship needs. If it needs joy, be joy, if it needs excitement, bring the fun, and if it needs to be resurrected, be the one to start speaking life back into the relationship.
Love God’s way is beautiful, but it is work! Most importantly, it is work that has to be done by you! We tend to pass the responsibility of love unto other people when it is our responsibility to be love first! If these principles appear impossible to you or you feel it’s asking too much from you, then you are not ready to talk about love or enter a relationship. It would be unfair to the person you are with to expect them to care deeply for you, to lose themselves for you, to forgive you, to show you unmerited kindness, to be constant and faithful in their love for you, and to be whatever else you may require, YET you cannot be the same for them! We can only give what we have and can only expect to receive what we’ve given.” But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully” (2 corinthians 9:6); therefore if we want to experience the height of what love done God’s way is, we have to sow bountifully. We have to put in the time and effort to pray and cultivate these love characteristics in ourselves. The more of love we become, the richer our friendships and marriages will be. The ultimate goal is to embody the essence of love so much that we can go back to 1 Corinthians 13 and insert our names in the place of love. For example, can I truly say, “FeeFe suffers long and she is kind. She does not envy, she does not parade herself, she is not puffed up…”. The moment I can confidently replace love with my name is when I know I am becoming the love I seek. For the unmarried I pray that as you become love, may God bring you the love you seek. For the married I pray that as you become love, may God cause your spouse to be changed for the better because of your love. Amen.
With Love ♥
“Above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfectness”- Colossians 3:1