Wednesday, June 24, 2015
"On Fire": What 'I Love You' (Biblically) Acts Like. (Part 1)
Have you ever been in the kind of relationship ("situation" is probably the more appropriate word) where you really care about the person and you really want to believe that they care about you but if someone asked you for some type of evidence to support the fact that they do...you wouldn't be able to come up with much? NOT. MUCH. AT. ALL.???
One of the things that I so appreciate about the Bible is the fact that it doesn't just speak highly about love; it also tells us how to know it when we see it. That way, we don't have to disillusion ourselves or (OR) settle for less than the real thing.
So, in honor of some semi-crazy conversations that I've been having with a few women lately about the "love" they are in vs. *the love that is real*, and also in order to prevent any of us from embracing "the counterfeit kind of love", here are five of the 10 ways to discern what love is. *Based on how it acts. Based on the Bible*. (I'll share the other half on next week.)
LOVE PUTS GOD FIRST
"And you shall love the Lord your God out of and with your whole heart and out of and with all your soul (your life) and out of and with all your mind (with your faculty of thought and your moral understanding) and out of and with all your strength. This is the first and principal commandment."---Matthew 12:30(NKJV)
In a devotional that I penned a few days ago, I shared a revelation that I've been settling into more and more as it relates to I John 2:16. Since the Word tells us that all there is in the world is lust and pride, whenever we decide to step out of God's boundaries for relationships and date someone who doesn't have a relationship with him (not someone who simply "goes to church" but *actually has a relationship with all of the Godhead*--2 Corinthians 6:11-18, I John 3:8), we're setting ourselves up *by choice*, to be involved with a man who has severe lust issues, pride issues or the combination of what can come from lust and pride "marrying each other": *extreme selfishness*.
It is close to impossible to have a healthy relationship with a selfish person (Philippians 2:3) and deeper than that, one of the best ways to overcome selfishness is by putting God first. A man who does that is opening himself up to receive direction from the Lord on how to love...appropriately. Because he is so engrossed in wanting to serve and please God, loving you in a way that does not bring forth God's approval is *the last thing* that he's going to want to do. A man who loves God is not perfect yet he is humble and he's open to being a student of love from the Ultimate Teacher. This puts you into the position of being loved in the best and most holy (sacred and special) way possible.
LOVE LOVES FROM THE INSIDE OUT
"The second is like it and is this, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these."---Mark 12:31(AMP)
If you're looking for a new book to add to your collection, you might want to consider picking up: True Love Dates: Your Indispensable Guide to Finding the Love of Your Life. In checking some of it out, there is a section entitled "Dating Inward" which confirms the point...of this point.
Being that I work with a porn ministry, I sometimes get emails sent my way from women who are dating porn addicts. As they go into why they feel that marrying these guys will "cure" their addiction (um, it won't), one of the things that I share with them is that no one is in the position to love another person well if they don't first love themselves.
"On Fire" ladies, this is so biblical. Aside from us being told to love our neighbors *as ourselves*, look at what Ephesians 5 says about husbands and how they are supposed to act towards their own wives:
"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones."---Ephesians 5:25-3(NKJV)
Personally, I used to struggle with the underlined part because, unfortunately, I know quite a few men who act like they hate themselves. Promiscuity is not a form of self-love (or self-preservation in this day and age). Being addicted to *anything* is not a form of self-love. Not taking care of your health is not a form of self-love. Yet what I realize is the Word is basically saying "It should be a given that a man who actually takes on the responsibility of a wife should be a man who loves himself enough to see her as an extension of who he is and therefore, will care for her as he cares for his own being."
A man is to nourish and cherish you. It's not your responsibility to *teach him* how to do that. Help him (Genesis 2:18), sure. Teach him? Uh-huh. By loving God and then himself, he will come into an divine understanding of what nourishing and cherishing means and requires. Not only that, but he will reveal to you what nourishing and cherishing look like *before marrying you*. He won't be able to help it. When you love from the inside out, it tends to spill over! Yes, as the picture quote states: A man who is at peace with himself will reveal it in the reflection of how he treats the woman he cares about. And cares for.
LOVE DRAWS IN WITH LOVINGKINDNESS
"The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying: 'Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.'"---Jeremiah 31:3(NKJV)
One book that in some ways is a heavy read but was a game-changer for me at the same time is The Sacred Art of Lovingkindness: Preparing to Practice. It's by a local rabbi I know and it really does challenge one's way of thinking. It addresses things like you're not operating in lovingkindness if you imitate (copy) others. You're not operating in lovingkindness if you don't keep the commands of God. You're not operating in lovingkindness if you choose to not reflect God's image. You're not operating in lovingkindness if you operate out of fear. And you're not operating in lovingkindness if you don't have compassion.
Compassion is a word that is oftentimes not properly defined or taught. Compassion is not simply feeling bad for someone. Feeling bad is inactive. Compassion is an action word. It's defined in this way: "a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering".
When someone is suffering or in some kind of need, *compassion has a strong desire to do something about it*. So yes, when God told the prophet Jeremiah that he was drawing him in with lovingkindness, a part of what this meant was God was going to use compassion to bring him closer to him. If you're interested in someone who shows more *apathy* than *empathy* towards you and what you may be going through at any given time, that has red flags all over the place! Please don't ignore them. It's not a man's job to *baby you* (a mature woman knows that---I Corinthians 13:11) or *be your savior* (a mature believer knows that---Hebrews 5:12-14). Yet he is going to be sensitive to the trials, tribulations and circumstances that may be personally affecting you.
Also, the dictionary definition of lovingkindness is "tender kindness motivated by or expressing affection". I've shared before that my mom has told me that at the end of the day, something that she wants most for me, is a kind man. It makes sense being that it's the "second ingredient" in the "love juice box" of I Corinthians 13 ("Love is longsuffering. Love is kind."). And you know what? *No man can be kind without being tender*. And (appropriately and responsibly) affectionate as well.
When you're tender, you're "easily moved to sympathy or compassion; kind". When you're tender, you're "affectionate or loving; sentimental or amatory". And I really like another definition of tender: "considerate or careful". In dealing with us, God is considerate. In dealing with us, he's also careful. A man after God's own heart strives to be the same way with the woman he claims to love. So yes, when a spiritually-sound man says "I love you", a part of what he is saying is "When it comes to your mind, heart and body, I intend to be very considerate of and careful with you."
LOVE. DOES. NO. HARM.
"Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law."---Romans 13:10(NKJV)
Yeah, I have a feeling that a part of the reason why I'm about 8 1/2 years of abstinence and counting is because I didn't take this "love point" as literally or seriously as I should have back in my "setting it out" days; therefore, I needed more "detoxing" and *purifying* than I initially thought. Look, there is no absolute way that the Word can say "Don't fornicate" (Hebrews 13:4, I Corinthians 6...all over the place) and two people can do it and think that they are not inflicting harm upon one another. Love does no harm. The Bible clearly tells us so and harm is defined as being "physical injury", "mental damage" *and* "moral injury". Fornication, interestingly enough, one way or another, does all three.
Therefore, no kind of "making love" is taking place in the midst of *sexual sin*. Period. Besides, a man who really and truly loves you is not going to want to violate you in that way. Your body is a gift to him once you're his wife. That's because he has God's blessing and permission to partake. Prior to that, he's a...trespasser. In other words, *until God tells a man that having sex with you is OK...it's not OK*.
Yet aside from sexual sin/brokenness/compromise, a godly man knows that love is designed to do basically the opposite of harm and that's protect. And since protect means "to defend or guard from attack, invasion, loss, annoyance, insult, etc.; cover or shield from injury or danger" that would mean that he's not going to be the direct cause of attacks or loss or insults, right? One of the best definitions of abuse that I've ever heard of is "abnormal use". Pay close attention to how you're being treated mentally, emotionally, physically, verbally *and also* spiritually. If he's not striving to guard you from harm, he might as well be causing it. Or cosigning on it. Either way, you deserve better. Lots better.
LOVE LITERALLY DOES THINGS
"Little children, let us not love [merely] in theory or in speech but in deed and in truth (in practice and in sincerity)."---I John 3:18(AMP)
OK, so a man says he loves you. What is he *doing* about it? The Word is clear that not only are we called to love but we are commissioned to do so beyond lip service. Our love is to manifest through our deeds.
A deed is defined as "something that is done, performed, or accomplished; an act". However, another definition that I really like is "an act or gesture, especially as illustrative of intentions, one's character, or the like". Deeds are designed to reveal one's intentions. Deeds are also designed to reveal one's character (Colossians 3:12-17).
Based on how the guy you're interested in's intentions and character are, that speaks volumes to how they really and truly feel. And so, love is not love unless there are actions to back them up. By him. *And by you*. If saying the words is all that's going on, real and love has yet to come into fruition. It's another thing to not ignore. It's a huge matter to pay very close attention to.
The Bible is awesome in so many ways!
It provides answers to every spiritual question that we have.
And love? It is indeed spiritual.
The next time you're about to say "I love you"...
You hear "I love you"...
Or you wonder if someone loves you...
Take all of these biblical descriptions of love into account...
So that you can know if you're in *true love*. Or not.