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On the Side - February 2015

Love is in the Air

By Sharon Chatwell 

A disco song made popular by John Paul Young in 1978 tells us that “Love is in the Air.”  And, with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, he could be right.

Love is in the air, and everyone with a sweetheart is lining up to buy roses and chocolates, or the perfect heart-shaped card.  So maybe, in this time marked by perfume and glamour, we should stop and think about what love actually is.

Love is not a mushy emotion or a card decorated with fat little cupids.  It’s not even those little candy heart things with catchy phrases on them like “Be Mine.”

In today’s culture, people can be very self-centered.  When they do think about love, it is often in terms of “What’s in it for me?” or “What have you done for me lately?”  In fact, sometimes even our definition of love changes as we go along.

In the Bible the description of love (or agape) is very different.  1 John 4:7-8 tells us that “God is love” and that “love comes from God.”  And, since James 1:17 says that God “does not change,” we can know that love doesn’t change either.

The love of God is famously described in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

Whenever we wonder what God is like, we can read these verses.  Since we know that God is love, this description of love is also a description of God Himself.

As Christians we are given many opportunities to love others.  We are commanded by Jesus Christ, the Son of God, to love one another, to love our neighbors as ourselves, and even to love our enemies.

This type of love is not self-centered, but instead is characterized by self-sacrifice.  And if you have ever tried to love others (whether or not they are your enemies) you have probably already discovered this.

As we go through our lives, I am convinced that God gives us opportunities to learn each one of the characteristics of love described in Corinthians.

I well remember the morning I was driving one of my sons to his job.  He had disappointed me terribly the day before and I was still aggravated with him.  I was tempted to lash out at him verbally but instead I wanted to try and show him love. 

In an effort to keep from saying something hurtful to him I decided to try saying “Love is patient, love is kind” over and over to myself. 

It worked!  In fact it worked so well that I started laughing, because I realized that I was SCREAMING the words faster and faster in my head: “Love is patient, love is kind; Love is Patient, Love is Kind; LOVE IS PATIENT! LOVE IS KIND!!!”

In the end I did not say the mean and hateful things that I had been tempted to say. Instead I was able to say something pleasant and get him to his destination without incident… But only by the grace of God!

Since then God has given me many more opportunities to explore the truths in that list of what “Love is” and “Love isn’t.”  I vividly remember hanging on by my fingertips to the words “love…always hopes, always perseveres” while praying with my face to the ground (and my nose in the carpet) during a very dark time.  It was then that I learned that the final verse is true as well: “Love never fails.”

It’s true!  God does not fail.  He is always faithful, and true to His Word.  It seems that during the past 30 years of my life, often with my children and family, God has been dragging me (sometimes kicking and screaming) through a series of lessons on these truths.  I believe He has been trying to teach me what His love is like, so that in turn I will be able to show that same type of love to others.

He loves us just like His words say.  We can count on it.  And of course His love for us caused Him to provide the greatest sacrifice of all.  1 John 4:9-11 tells us: “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.  

The passage ends with this admonition:  “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”

Okay.  It works for me.  And, after all, “Love is in the air…”

Sharon is a physician spouse, who has four lovely children.  Her prayer for you is that you will continue to discover the amazing depths of God’s love for you, so that you may more easily share that love with those around you!

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