What the world will never understand about love.
True love hurts!
I saw a purple magnetic ribbon sticker on a car which said “True love should not be painful...” or something to that effect. I immediately disagreed with it. I brought it to the attention of my family, and they disagreed with it too. To expect true love to only be joyous, and pleasurable is to deny the very character of God expressed in Christ, and the nature of mankind.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8
"Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails."
This definition of love is repeated many times in wedding ceremonies. It is a standard of loving many if us aspire to, but fail miserably. See what love does in verse 4. Love ENDURES all things AND is kind. If love is never to suffer, why must love ENDURE, and be KIND while doing it? Look at verse 7 & 8. “Love bears all things, [love] believes all things, [love] hopes all things, [love] endures all things, love never fails.
Love is not self seeking….what does that mean, and how do we apply it? Can we say that love is not selfish? Can we say that love seeks after the betterment of the of the person we love? What about God or our neighbors? Is this kind of love without pain?
The Apostle John, the brother of Jesus, defined love like this;
1 John 4:10 NKJV
"In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins."
In the old testament, God declares this to His people;
“The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; “but because the LORD loves you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers, the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.
When the history of the old testament is read, do you notice a continual thread? God gives directions for a blessed life, and the nation of Israel rejects God's plan for them. God continues to love but Israel continues rebel.
John 15:16 [Jesus is speaking]
“You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you."
Are you similar to the nation of Israel, do you bear the good fruit of repentance, or do you rebel, looking to please yourself?
"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life."
Does God's demonstrated love for us involve pain and suffering? I think so. Christ offered His body to be a sin sacrifice for us all. That was a heavy price to pay for us all. So if we are to be imitators of God, is our love to be painless, or should we bear pain because we love?
Which parent with a sick child doesn't hurt with them? For very sick children, what parent wouldn't trade places with them? What spouse doesn't hurt while the other is enslaved by the sin of addiction? What spouse isn't hurt when called out on addiction, and how they hurt their spouse and children?
Love both causes hurt and endures hurt for the betterment of another. God says He chastises those whom He loves. What parent would never punish a child for doing wrong, or breaking clear established rules? In today's American culture, many parents fail to punish their children, with disastrous results.
In man's worldly wisdom, love has limits. God's love knows no limits. Where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more. Thieves have found love and repentance as have murders. Repentance means a change of mind toward sin, God, and themselves. The Greek word translated to repent is "metenouya." It is the base word we get from metamorphosis, or the Change from a caterpillar to a butterfly. 2 Timothy chapter 3 says love will grow cold…..
2 Timothy 3:1-5
"This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away."
Perilous times shall come when mankind lives for himself and his carnal pleasures. Paul makes a contrast of living and loving God, and living and loving oneself.
"Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God."
The fruit of the flesh does several things. It hurts the one living by the flesh, and hurts those who love him/her. It also self serving. Those who live according to the flesh find sin funny, and Righteousness impossibly hard work.
While personal sin is difficult, being sinned against by as family member, a church member, a co-worker, or a neighbor can be devastating. Even when they do it over and over. Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples asked Him if he should forgive his brother seven times. Jesus said seventy times seven. In Mathew chapter 18:21, Jesus began to tell Peter a story about a king and a servant. This servant owed his king a lot of money and yet the king had compassion and forgave the entire sum. Yet that servant wound up in jail with the torturers anyway because he didn't have the same compassion on another servant who owed just a little.
"So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses."
God commands Christians to forgive as they have been forgiven. Didn't Jesus teach us to pray “forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us”? Love just plain hurts. Love is not fair. Love is all or nothing. Love is NOT a 50/50 contract. That is just plain selfish.
What was Jesus’ words as He was being murdered and nailed to His cross? “Forgive them...” This is exactly what the kingdom of God looks like. Remember ALL your sin? The blasphemy? The times you stole from your family, employer, and friends? Recall the adultery of the imagination you enjoyed? Jesus took God's wrath and punishment for it all.
Now imagine a recurring squabble you have with a brother. Do you harbor an unforgiving spirit? Do you feel justified in your anger? If you treat your wife like this, your prayers are blocked from reaching God. This is serious, you must forgive everyone everything all the time.
True love costs plenty, but the cost of bitterness is your soul. What benefit there is if you gain the world, but lose your soul? If We are to LOVE our enemies, how much more are we to endure our family and friends? Jesus did. For while we were sinners, Christ died for us.
Let's see what the results or fruit of living according to the Spirit of God.
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit."
Even here we continue to see the difficult or painful side of love. If love were only to be convenient, comfortable, and easy, why should the fruits include words like “long-suffering, meekness, temperance (or to say self-control). The very next sentence includes crucifying the desires of the flesh. Sounds as if true love is not about self fulfilling pleasures, but self-sacrifice.
Jesus call us to put to death the desires of the flesh, to take up your cross, to take up your instrument of torturous death, and follow Him. This journey is not for the faint of heart. You must count the cost of discipleship. When you come to the end of yourself, you find the Kingdom of God, and everlasting life. The freedom won is definitely worth the trip.
Love is inconvenient, and painful, but so very worth it. Be an imitator of God.