Many relationships begin easy enough. We are attracted to something someone says.
Or perhaps we are attracted to how someone looks.
We ask someone questions and like their answers. Maybe we meet someone who seems to think like we do.
Perhaps, over time, we begin to think that we love this person. We open our hearts to give this person a special place in our lives, perhaps as a spouse, or an adopted child, perhaps as a best friend.
But then, over time, things seem to change. Things begin to happen that annoy us. Someone says something will get done, but then, for whatever reason, it doesn’t. There seems to be little respect for being on time. Conversations begin to include gossip. Anger sometimes surfaces.
Over time, doubt may begin to creep in. We may begin to think that, perhaps, we made a mistake in opening our hearts to a person. Perhaps we made a mistake in calling what we felt - love.
Actually, that’s the point. Love is not a feeling. Love is a decision that results in a loving action. Granted, love is an action that often feels good, but at the heart of love is a decision.
How many times have we quoted John 3:16? Let’s look at it this time to hear if, at the heart of God’s love, there was a decision.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
God so loves us that He made the decision to give His only begotten Son so that we can have everlasting life. God didn’t send Jesus to die for us because it felt good to Him. No. We know now that this decision, based on love, would lead to Jesus’ crucifixion. God knew that outcome, but made this decision anyway.
In Luke 22, starting at verse 42, we read the words Jesus spoke in the Garden of Gethsemane before He was arrested and sentenced to die. He prayed:
Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me: nevertheless not My will, but Yours be done. Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling to the ground.
This is what the heart of love looks like; it’s a decision birthed in the will of God.
Sometimes, love is an easy decision: like giving up our seat on the bus; letting someone else go first; inviting someone for lunch. This is love in action. This is what it means to be exhibiting the Fruit of the Spirit in our lives. This is the will of God.
Sometimes, at the heart of love is a decision with painful consequences, but with it, comes the perfect peace of God because the decision is based on the perfect will of God for our lives. We choose faith over fear. We choose others over ourselves.
It was Jesus who said in John 15:13-14:
Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.
In verse 17, Jesus says:
These things I command you, that you love one another.
What cup have we been asking God to take away from us?
If our prayer has been that God would take away a cup that holds a difficult relationship, may we consider changing our prayer to: “... nevertheless, not my will, Father, but Yours be done.”
Let’s ask Him to teach us how to love as He loves.
Let’s ask God to show us how to make decisions that clearly demonstrate love for each person He brings us into contact with.
Here are three thoughts I would like to leave with you. It is unknown who wrote them.
The first to apologize is the bravest.
The first to forgive is the strongest.
The first to move forward is the happiest.
I pray that God will bless you this week in ways that you never could have imagined. Amen.