Real love is complicated, specifically when it is corrupted by our emotions. When we feel passionate about something, we are willing to go the extra mile. That is, until we no longer feel strongly about it.
We often believe we love someone because of the strong feelings we have toward that person, but when the thrill is gone, so is the love. Real love is a choice and an action that endures even when our emotions faint. It continues to give, believe, and care when it is abused, despised and rejected. Real love is not about expressing our feelings, but about ministering to the needs of another.
Though we mean well, we often cause more harm than good because we don’t really know how to love people. We don’t know how to be a blessing. We give people what we want them to have. We give them what we think they need. We don’t minister directly to the person. To do so would require us to separate what we desire to see happen from what really needs to happen. It would require us to actually listen to them.
We have to be taught how to love, to help, and to give, like a tradesman is taught how to use his tools or a soldier his weapons.
When I was a young Christian, I misused the Word of God. I preached at people what I thought they needed to hear. When I got angry, I used it to curse and condemn them. I offended people most times unwittingly, other times on purpose. As I grew up, I learned how to get myself out the way and use God’s word to teach, admonish, strengthen and encourage people. And I learned how to use it to resist the devil.
With weapons fighters can use them for evil or for good. Even a well-meaning soldier can do great harm if he lacks understanding. All tools, no matter their original purpose, can be used for either good or evil. It all depends on what’s in the heart of the one who possesses them and his training.
When we have the capacity to give, we can misjudge a person or situation. We can see a homeless man and think, Wouldn’t he love to be off the streets? So we reach in our pockets and bless him with a handful of money. Later, the man gets beaten, robbed and left for dead in the gutter. Or maybe we decide to take him home, give him a hot bath and a meal, and in turn, he robs us. It could be that all the man needed was a smile and hot cup of coffee.
But that wouldn’t make us feel good about ourselves. We’d feel so much better if we could give more.
So with love we must learn: IT’S NOT ABOUT US.
Love is about the other person. When we get in the way, our love can wind up destroying the person we wanted to save. Or we wind up making him/her hate us. We may even wind up hating him/her because he despised our love. The love we wanted him to have, the love we believed he should have.
Not the love he actually needed.
With humble hearts we should all pray: Lord, teach me how to love.