Pastor David’s sermon on love struck me in a very unusual way: it made me ponder what it meant to actually love another person. For so long I had assumed that I knew what love was, after all how hard can it be? My mom and dad always told me that to love somebody you simply do unto them as you would have them do unto you. Little did I know that their advice was actually biblical!
Luke 6:31 says, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”(NIV)
So I tried living my life that way. I made sure to always ask myself how I wanted to be treated before I did anything, and for 26 years that manner of thinking got me by. Then, marriage happened. As is often the case with marriage, I came to realize just how selfish I was.
The other day there was a stack of dishes in the sink that almost reached the ceiling. I asked myself with regard to the dishes how I would like to be treated and came to the conclusion that I didn’t mind the dishes being left in the sink. In fact it would conserve water and soap if the dishes were done all at once at the end of the day; therefore I much preferred not doing the dishes. So if that’s how I’d like to be treated, that’s how I would treat my wife! Suffice it to say that it did not go well for me at all.
You see, the love that we’re called to is one that is completely selfless, putting other people’s interests above our own ~ it is sacrificial. This nuance wasn’t apparent to me until Pastor David spoke. Going through life treating people as we want to be treated is good, but it misses the mark slightly. That sort of love is still rooted in self, our desires still inform the manner of our love.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 says, “Love is patient, love is kind. 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” (italics added).
I think true love is one where the self is removed. Each of the adjectives in the 1 Corinthians passage can be categorized under the word “selfless.” In other words, the common thread that links all these exhortations together is the concept of sacrifice. Love of other people requires sacrifice; sacrifice of our preferences, our conveniences, our plans and even our lives. Perhaps the greatest person to exemplify such love is Jesus, who sacrificed everything for us. And in the same way we were called to that high level of love!