Monday, July 21, 2008

Love defined: a conscious choice that is maintained by will and strengthened by habit

Understanding God's love is something that is often on my mind--it is another characteristic that I struggle to wrap my mind around especially when it comes to pairing it with God. Yesterday while reading Choosing God's Best, I read a chapter that discussed love in the clearest way that I've ever known:

"True love is a decision that is consciously made. It is as much an act of the will as an emotion. Love is a sacrificial commitment...Christ showed ultimate love by His commitment to die on the cross. His choice to die was based on His love commitment, not a feeling. No feeling can be relied on to last in its full intensity or even to last at all. That's why love isn't just a feeling but a deep unity maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit."

God's love for us is this--a conscious choice maintained by His will. If I were in God's position and my love were simply an emotion, I'm pretty sure that I wouldn't be loving my children as consistently and mercifully as He does--my emotion (love) would probably go out the window after the 45th time my children sinned the same way. Are you with me? I know we are not on the same level as God so comparisons like this aren't totally valid, but I wanted to put it in perspective.

Applying this concept of love to my life becomes eons easier when I can apply it in concrete terms of a choice that I can make. Emotions are so fleeting anyway--in my case my emotions tend to be delayed making it harder to consider them in any decision making process. What kind of "love choices" do I make on a daily basis? I often times choose to love myself above others even in the simplest of ways. My mind is often crowded with questions and insecurities that focus on my comfort and my security. I think love is illustrated in our lives when we put other's best interest before our own. Or maybe when we sacrifice something that we want for something someone else wants. These decisions can be quite simple and easy to maintain over time, especially considering that we get to make the choice.

I pray for God's help this day to make godly choices when it comes to loving others. Because my emotions are primarly self-centered and self-seeking, I ask for God's help in consciously choosing to serve others by loving them. I pray for God's help in making these choices a habit with my family, my friends, peers, strangers, students and yes, even the crazy parents that I have had to deal with this past year. Love can be manifested in simple ways in our lives and given both directly and indirectly to those around us. I pray that I remember that Jesus is more than enough for both of us, so I don't have to worry about "what about me?"

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