Of all the many kinds of "loves" in our world today, it fascinates me that when people see true love in action, they intuitively know it is the real thing.
I recently read a few statements from children regarding love, and some of them were rather profound.
- Rebecca [age 8] said, "When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn't bend down to paint her toenails anymore, so my grandfather does it for her. That's love."
- Danny [age 7] said, "When my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him to make sure the taste is okay—that's love."
- Chris [age 7] said, "Love is when Mommy sees Daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he's handsome."
- Elaine [age 5] said, "Love is when Mommy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken." I like the way she thinks!
Most of these kids understand acts of sacrifice to be a reflection of agape love. But some of their companions missed the mark a little bit.
- Like Karl who said, "Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving lotion and they go out and smell each other!"
- Lauren said, "I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones." She'll catch on one day!
- But Jessica perhaps delivered the most profound statement of all when she said, "You really shouldn't say ‘I love you' unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot, because people forget."
In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul delivers to the church in Corinth one of the most remarkable, yet challenging pieces of prose on the subject of true love. In the process, he shatters the myths that abound today.
He effectively says, "It doesn't matter who you are, who you think you are, or who others think you are; if you sacrificially act toward others with agape love, your life will be meaningful."
That may seem hard to swallow at first, but when we test his statement in every aspect of life, we realize that he is right on the money.
Think about it: what is a marriage without love? Or a family? Or a friendship? Or a church? Or a career? Without love, life is like a fireplace without a fire or a pool without water. It's cold . . . it's empty.
The Bible makes it clear that "God is love." He doesn't just love or act in love or say He loves. He is love! And that means our ability to agape-love is a gift that comes directly from His character. When we love others, we are acting most like God, for that is who He is.
The tragedy in our world is not that people don't love—many do. Even unbelieving wives taste the coffee before handing it to their husbands; they even give them the best piece of chicken. They just don't know why.
Apart from God, the world not only loses the reason to love but has no incentive to continue to love someone when the recipient is unloving in return.
Love, at its core, grows cold and is empty if we do not surrender to the God of love Who is the source of agape love.
Let's take to heart this description from Paul and remind ourselves today that were it not for Christ's agape love toward us, we would not be able to offer it faithfully to others.
Demonstrating the character of Christ is agape love . . . it might include—but goes way beyond—giving away the best piece of chicken!
Prayer Point: As little Jessica so poignantly challenged us, let's take time today and prayerfully consider someone we can show love to in a substantial way. Then, thank God for the undeserved love He has given you in Christ. Ask Him to show you some tangible way that you can demonstrate His love to someone else.
Extra Refreshment: 1 Corinthians 13.
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