True Love

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“Love is long-suffering and kind. Love is not jealous, it does not brag, does not get puffed up, does not behave indecently, does not look for its own interests, does not become provoked. It does not keep account of the injury. It does not rejoice over unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails. … Now, however, there remain faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
1 Corinthians 13:4-8, 13

A profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.
A feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend.
Dictionary

The above definitions of love – both the Biblical and the secular – are both accurate, though the Biblical definition is more descriptive and poetic.

Love is, without a doubt, the most important thing in life. I’m not speaking of just romantic love, but love on a grander scale, love that truly endures and never fails.

Love can mean different things to different people, but true love differs from passion, lust, or strong enthusiasm. True love makes a better person of us, gives us strength, and brings us joy.

In the Bible passage above, in the original Greek, the word translated “love” is just one of four ancient Greek words for love. Αγάπη (agape) is the word used. It differs from φιλία (philia), love between family members and close friends, έρως (eros), romantic love, and οτοργή (storge), affection or fondness. This agape is a principled love – selfless, altruistic, committed, and perhaps the highest level of love known to humanity.

It is possible to love one person with all four loves, most likely a spouse. But when troubles come, which of those loves will keep the marriage strong and intact? Not romance or affection, but the selfless, committed love. In a serious marital crisis, only a deeply committed, principled love will save the marriage from failure. What moves you to make sacrifices for the sake of the relationship? True love. As Shakespeare aptly put it in his 116th sonnet:

“Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken…”

True love is enduring. It is not flighty or unreliable, but constant, faithful, and steadfast. Sadly, it is also becoming rarer.

There are too many news stories of marriages breaking up, parents dumping or otherwise abusing and endangering their children, of “friends” backstabbing each other, of grown children abusing elderly parents, and the like. It’s downright depressing. What is happening to love?

Can you think of someone hurting an elderly person and not cringe in pain? Could you look into a hungry or endangered child’s eyes and not be moved to help in some way? Is there someone in your life that means more to you than life itself? Is there a person you know who can make any trial worthwhile? Is there a human being that you would die for, if it came to that? It doesn’t have to be someone you’re romantically involved with. You don’t have to be a parent to feel this love. But have you simply opened yourself up to the possibilities that this kind of love could bring?

The extraordinary thing about real love is that it always begets more love. It multiplies exponentially. You could find one love in your life, and through that love be connected to more love. It could be a spouse, a friend, a relative, a child. Before you know it, you’ve built up a network of love. But you must be willing to open up to it. People need people. Human connections are vital to our well-being, and we are all connected more than we realize. Make it count. Open your heart. Let love in, let it move you. Watch your life change because of it. Love never fails.

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