“Peace be to the brothers, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible.”
Love is at the heart of every relationship we have and should be the animating force in our mindset toward God and toward people. Its presence (or absence) determines the quality of our relationships.
The defining characteristic of God’s love in us is not how it feels, but what it does. Authentic love is an action, not an emotion. Yes, there are times when we feel an overwhelming sense of love and affection for the people who are most dear to us. And yes, there are times when we feel an overwhelming sense of love and affection for the Lord.
But there are also many times when we do not have those feelings. As followers of Jesus, we must recognize that love, in all of its fullness and strength, resides within us irrespective of how we “feel.” Ironically, to the extent that people equate love with feeling, their relationships are weakened.
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.” (John 15.12-14)
At its heart, the love that Jesus commands is an action that is driven by character and courage. I think this is why Jesus describes it as “no greater love.” Emotion-driven love is a lesser form. Character-driven love is the highest form. And there is no greater love, because it is compelled to act even when it doesn’t feel like it.
Love according to the world: My feelings about you are primary; my commitment to you flows from how I feel. When the feelings waver, the love goes away. Given this definition, it is no surprise that there are so many broken relationships in our society!
Love according to God’s kingdom: My commitment to you is primary; my feelings flow from that commitment. God’s way of love is objective, intentional, and driven by selfless commitment. When the feelings waver, the love does not go away. It stays strong.
When people on a team, in a business, in a marriage, or in a unit operate according to this standard of love, extraordinary things happen. When people are bound together by this kind of uncommon commitment to each other, they achieve uncommon things. This is what Jesus has done for us, and it is to this kind of love—to this kind of life—that he calls us.
“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers …. Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” (1 John 3:16,18)
May the Spirit of God fill you, and then empower you to live an uncommon life that is motivated by an uncommon commitment to the Savior and to the people whose lives you touch.