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Our culture is so confused by what love actually is. Is it simply having sex with another person? Or is it getting our way all the time? What about a tingly feeling? Or is love being happy 24/7? What exactly is it in relation to others?
Hebrews 13:1 says love is “being concerned about each other.” The Greek word philadelphia means the love between sisters and brothers in the body of Christ. It is a love that always puts the other first. So how do we respond when someone is in need and practically requires our help (v 2)? Or in prison and suffering because of the circumstances in their life (v 3)? Or what about when we are lonely and want to connect with someone physically other than our spouse (v 4)? How is love expressed in these situations?
The practical answers to these questions are very important and need to be answered. However, they are not the only answers because our relationship with God is not exclusively a functional list of do’s and don’ts. That would negate God’s love and grace in our lives. And it would eventually turn our relationship with him into a series of religious duties, sucking the life out of it. Just as it would in any human relationship if we reduce it down to a set of behavioral obligations.
The only way we can love others; the only way we can put others before ourselves; the only way we can love God – is by knowing and experiencing who Jesus is and his commitment to us. He promises not to “leave us or desert us” (v 6). And in case this seems like wishful thinking we are reminded emphatically that “Jesus never changes”; he is always the same (v 8, emphasis mine)!
Love is not confusing or impossible to grasp. It is real and possible with others because of who Jesus is and how he acts towards us.
Thank you, Lord, for your promise that you will never leave me or desert me. Today, help me to grasp this truth about your love for me. That you are committed to me no matter how I feel or what my circumstances look like. In turn, help me to love those around me in this same way. I pray in your name, Amen.