July 25, 2004
”Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;”
I Corinthians 13:4
Love—have you ever wondered what real love looks like?
I was glancing at a magazine article about Ronald and Nancy Reagan, the other day. It said that when Ronald Reagan became involved with Nancy, an emptiness that he had known inside was no longer there. The love Nancy brought into his life met a deep inner need he had.
There are different types of love. The three basic kinds are; brotherly love, romantic love and unconditional love. We need all three.
Brotherly love is friendship. We have this love toward our friends and even business contacts. It is basic respect of others and involves common courtesy, honesty and fairness.
Romantic or erotic love has the element of physical attraction. It is powerful and God designed. It is part of every healthy marriage, that is, the union, for life, of one man and one woman. It is God’s wedding present, the icing on the marital cake, strengthening the marital bond, bringing closeness, intimacy and unity in the marriage, and leading to the birth of children, which creates the family unit, the building block of every society.
Unconditional or agape love, the most pure love, is seen in the love of parents toward their children. And we see this in the relationship between the Heavenly Father and His children. The Father or parent cares for the child out of His or their own love. The child doesn’t need to earn this acceptance and regard. Rather, it is freely given and can’t be earned!
Secondly, unconditional love requires sacrifice. Again, a parent sacrifices time, energy, money, emotion, privacy, privileges and puts up with many inconveniences in order to meet the needs of the child. This goes on for years. Even in adulthood, the child may still seek the counsel of the parent. However, ultimately, the child leaves childhood behind and becomes an adult, fully accountable for his or her emotions, words and actions. Then, the adult often takes on the responsibility of having a family of his or her own.
Unconditional love is something we all crave. Each one of us wants to be loved (cherished, desired, and wanted) for who we are. When we are accepted unconditionally, we respond; we open up; we are comfortable; we feel free to be ourselves and to become the person that we were designed to be. This is the opposite of being judged, scorned, rejected or mistrusted.
Though I find it difficult to accept, nevertheless it is true that God loves me (little ‘ole me), unconditionally. This is equally true of us all. God unconditionally accepts us.
This is stunning! The God who brought into being the whole Universe, created all the galaxies and designed our DNA—loves us, His personal creations!
When we love someone, their needs become more important to us than our own. We put their needs above ours. (Sometimes, this is easy and, at other times, this takes continued effort.)
The amazing thing about love is that the more we love, the more joy we experience in our lives. The more care, kindness and attention we pay to those we love, the more this comes back to us! Plus, we have deep down satisfaction, knowing that we have done something good.