Our culture talks a lot about it, especially this time of year. Yet even with all the talk, ideas, theories, and experience, our world is largely clueless on the topic. Even what we get right is often misapplied and misunderstood.
As Christians, those who serve and worship the author of love who, himself, is the very definition of love, we should be able to provide clarity on the topic. All too often, however, instead of our light shining into the world’s uncertainty, the fogginess of their confusion clouds our vision and obscures our understanding.
But if we could learn to love, like Jesus has commanded us to love, we would shine as lights in the world (Phil 2:15). We would see the reality of Jesus’ words as they see our love for one another and know we are his disciples (John 13:35).
I consider Paul’s words to the Thessalonian church…
Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more…(1 Thessalonians 4:9–10, ESV)
First thing we see is that the Thessalonians are loving one another well. I feel that he could very well be writing these words to our faith family. I am so proud to be a part of a church where we love well. This brief article does not afford the space necessary to recount the love you each demonstrate to one another and to me. Yet, he still encourages them to love more and more. Even at our best, we are limited. We may love well, but also love imperfectly, incompletely, and inconsistently. So, Paul says, “press on and love more and more.”
Next we observe that love is a learned skill. Love must be learnable, or God could not command us to love. The Thessalonians had been taught to love. Elsewhere in Scripture, we see older men and women encouraged to teach younger husbands and wives how to love one another.
Finally, we see that love is more of an action than a feeling. Love must be expressed in actions and behaviors, not simply felt. Of course, the emotional element is undeniable. Feelings are wonderful and can enrich our lives, but they are not ultimate. They cannot be relied upon.
To love in spite of our feelings is not hypocritical or dishonest, it is deep and mature. Love always acts on behalf of the one being loved regardless of how we feel. Indeed, experience will teach us that our feelings will often follow our actions and not the other way around.
So, let us learn new ways to love one another. Let us discover ways to serve and encourage one another. Let us patiently forgive, intentionally pursue, and selflessly consider one another as better than ourselves. Let us pray for, pour into, and hold onto one another. Let’s know one another and bless one another and depend on one another.
…for if we can learn this kind of love — and in crease in this kind of love — our joy will be increased, our friends will be built up, and our Savior will be glorified.