Falling into Love
In these days we are inundated by people who claim to be “experts” on the subject of love, but no one teaches us more about the concept of love than does the Apostle John. He teaches us mostly about our love for God, but we can see that this has wider applications as well. Here is what he wrote in one of his letters:
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1 John 4:7-8 ESV)
What John is telling us in this letter that he wrote long ago is that all true love actually emanates from God, for love is the very essence of God. “God is love,” John tells us.
We often hear that love is something that one falls into, but John says that it is instead something that we receive. If we are to love, then that love must come from God, for “Love is from God,” as John says.
When many people think of being in love, they see themselves as being driven by this love to act – to do something about it. Probably most of us can relate to this driving force of love in one way or another. We say that we have fallen into love, which prompted us to do something about it – ask that girl out for a date.
I will not say that this is not love, but I think that it is important to see that this is only the emotional part of love and only the beginning stages. It is the part of love that is prompted by our emotions. That is why we call this “falling into” love. No one intentionally trips and falls when they are walking. It is something that happens to them. Likewise, in the beginning stages of love, the infatuation part, this attraction just happens. We did not necessarily intend to be physically attracted to the other person. It just happens to us. And we cannot actually control it.
Putting Love into Practice
However, as we have seen in the words of John, true love, a mature love, is not something that we fall into, rather it is something that we receive from God. This is the part of love that goes beyond mere emotion. It still includes emotion, certainly, because a mature love will involve every part of our personality. But it also goes beyond that.
In the verse above, John told us to “love one another.” It is a command. It is something that we must choose to do. When we are infatuated by someone, we are driven less by choice. Instead, it is our emotions that are driving us to take action.
But John sees that there is also a need to instruct us to “love one another.” This is a level of action that does not come naturally to us. Even having received love from God, it is up to us to put it into use. It does not come automatically but it is something that we must initiate and sustain. We must do it purposefully.
All those who have remained married for many years know that the commitment to remain in that relationship must go beyond mere emotion. If emotion would be all that sustained a marriage, it certainly would not last many weeks.
When many people marry, they are merely seeking emotional and physical fulfillment and nothing more. These marriages do not last unless the couple involved learn to move beyond that initial stage and learn to truly commit themselves to one another in a loving relationship.
This is not news to you. Any of you who have been married for an extended time already know this.
But this is also true in loving other people. Sometimes we do something for someone else because we are driven by emotion to do so. Perhaps they have suffered a tragedy in their lives and need help. We are so driven by pity that we respond in some way.
This is good. It is good to act in such a way. But what happens if the people are not thankful or if they misuse what we have given them? We often then turn around and feel just the opposite toward them. Many times this change of opinion comes about because our own emotional needs were not met in the situation. We expected them to overflow gratefulness to us and a warm fuzzy feeling to be returned to us, and that did not happen.
I am not saying that we cannot learn some wisdom when our good deeds are misused by others, but what I am saying is that when we do something motivated by love, it is not done for reasons of what we will receive in return. It is done for the good of the other person. We are focused not on ourselves but on the other person.
In a few days I will conclude this post by explaining how to know if we have a true love for God