Advent Day 13: Don’t Give Up on Love

When my husband and I were dating, we went to a Christian concert by Sanctus Real. One of their songs “Don’t Give Up on Love” really stuck out to me that night. Before singing, the lead singer came out and spoke for a little bit about the high divorce rate and the fact that he sees so many people around him just giving up. When they started singing, the lyrics to the song were right on target with what he said. You can listen to it in the video below.

According to the American Psychological Association, 40-50% of married couples in the United States divorce (APA, 2018). I’ve experienced this in my own life with a close family member getting divorced, saying “I never really loved him.” This surprised me, because it definitely looked like she did at the wedding. But I guess I have to agree with her because if that’s the reason she’s getting divorced, then she never really knew what love was to begin with.

You see, something my husband and I learned well before we ever got married is that love is not what most people today see it as. It is not about emotions or pleasure. It’s not a feeling. Love is a choice. 1 Corinthians 13 is often recited at weddings and explains what love is well.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres...” -1 Corinthians 13:4-7

When Jesus looked at the broken and hurting in this world, he chose to love them. Others chose to look away or pass them by, but Jesus chose to love them and heal them. He also chose to love sinners, people that the religious leaders of his day would not even associate with. And when it came to the end of his ministry, Jesus chose to love us, to sacrifice himself for us. That is what love is all about: caring for someone else over yourself. Jesus put us first before his own life when he died on the cross. If he chose to do that for us, how can we not choose to love those around us?

I am not just talking about spouses, but all of our relationships with others. Jesus calls us to love our neighbor and goes on to clarify that everyone in this world with us is our neighbor. Are we patient with others? Do we put them first, or are we self-seeking? Do we always persevere in loving them, even when it is difficult?

I do realize that some relationships are unhealthy and that some people are better loved and prayed for from a distance. All divorce has negative consequences, but some divorce is allowed by God in the bible, especially in cases of infidelity. Even Joseph, a righteous man, was planning to divorce Mary quietly when he found out that she was pregnant with Jesus (Matthew 1:19). But if everyone who got married was truly loving with the love described in the bible, I believe that there would be no more divorce. So much pain and suffering is caused by people seeking their own happiness over that of others. How much better would this world be if everyone put the others first and loved the way that Jesus loved?

During this advent season, consider the description of love in Corinthians and how well your relationships match up. Pick one area of love that you would like to work on. Our love may not be perfect until we reach heaven, but we can still strive to follow after Jesus in the way that we love those around us.

 

American Psychological Association (2018). Marriage and divorce. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/topics/divorce/

Advent Day 11: Dearly Loved

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” -1 John 3:1

Awhile ago, God said something to me that I feel that I should share with all of you:

“My child,

I have great things in store for you. Be still and listen. You are broken and easily bruised. Come to me to find your rest. Let me restore you to health.

I give you living water from the well that never runs dry. Take hold of me as I have taken hold of you. Be with me always; as you go through your day do not let your mind wander too far from me. And know that I am always with you. I will guide you through life as a mother with a small child. Listen for me; I am speaking to you.” -God

This week of advent is all about love. Just being able to say that we are a child of the King of Kings shows the love that God has for us, that he was willing to adopt us as the imperfect people that we are. God loves us as a mother loves her child. Meditate on that today. Let it sink in. That kind of love is patient. That kind of love shows no selfishness. It means that He will take care of us and provide for us at no cost to us.

Ephesians 5:1-2 says this: “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” 

God showed his selfless love by coming to Earth as a baby at Christmas. He lived a difficult life, went though pain and suffering and went so far as to sacrifice himself for us. We do not ever need to doubt God’s love for us: He’s already proven it. So let Him love you. Draw close to Him and spend time with Him. Know that you are His child, who is dearly loved.

Advent Day 9: Encourage One Another (But Not Me!)

I’m an introvert, so I am used to doing things alone. I like to take care of myself and sometimes have trouble asking others for help. When others ask how I am doing, I usually reply “good” even if I really am not. But I am learning that sometimes, loving others is giving them the opportunity to help. We don’t have to carry our burdens alone. As members of Christ’s church, our struggles are not ours alone; they’re meant to be shared.

The bible calls us to “Love one another” (John 13:34) and “Encourage one another” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). How can someone follow these commands if we don’t let them? How will they know what we need if we don’t share our struggles with others?

I have these challenges for myself this week and would encourage you to take them on as well:

  1. Speak words of encouragement to one person this week. This could be in person, in writing, or over the phone.
  2. Ask how people in your life truly are and see if there is anything that you can do yourself.
  3. Let other believers know about one thing that you are struggling with and accept prayers or help if it is offered.

This world does not have to be such a lonely place! When we tell others of our struggles, it leaves us vulnerable but also opens us up to deeper connections and relationships. And if we let someone else help us, they might be more open to receiving help from us in the future.