What is LOVE? Wikipedia tells us that love encompasses a variety of different emotional and mental states, ranging from the deepest interpersonal affection to the simplest pleasure. In the modern world, it is an emotion that is turned off and on. Love can be much like that of a double-edged sword presenting itself in many forms. Some of these forms include a love of self and love of worldly things. Love of self and worldly things can lead one to what they may see perceive as love outside of the family unit. This so-called love can coerce you into leaving your family and your responsibilities behind. Or, it can cause you to strive so hard, seeking the things of the world that, while you may not leave your family behind, you simply are not present. Alternatively, love for the family unit, specifically your children, will force you to stay in an abusive setting. Love for the abuser will also force you to stay in the abusive setting, but leaving you to feel defeated and hopeless.
What are other ways that love is displayed as love of self or worldly things? There is love for emotion. Emotions such as pity we get from being in abusive settings. Pity may keep us in a setting for the attention we receive; therefore, displaying love of self. Further, love can be reflected as love of self by holding on to or loving the emotion of anger and hatred. Love of these emotions will self-destruct us. Self-destruct our body, our spirit, our mental well-being. When we are wronged, we let the emotion of anger show itself. Why? Pride? Or because we love the feeling of self-righteousness and justification. Again, displaying love of self and worldly things.
What about those who abuse? Specifically, parents who sexually abuse their children? What kind of love is that? Oddly, in many cases, it is a very deep love. It’s just a mixed up kind of love. A love of fulfilling ones’ self desires that allows Satan to seize an opportunity for the purpose of destruction. It doesn’t mean they don’t have a good heart, but their love of fulfilling dark physical desires over shadow the good.
In Hebrew, the original language of the Bible, love translates to “ahava”. The root word “ahav” means “to give”. “To give” is not an emotion but an action,otherwise known as an act of doing. It is giving, not receiving. In the Bible, 1Corinthians 13: 3-7 (NIV), Paul tells us that love is patient and love is kind. He says that love does not envy or boast. He tells us that it is not proud. Love does not dishonor others and it is not self-seeking. Neither is love easily angered or does it keep a record of wrongs. He goes on to say that love does not delight in evil, but rejoices in truth and will always protect, trust, hope, and, finally, will always persevere. Paul tells us that if we do not have love, we gain nothing.
Some will say, “What kind of God will allow abuse?” (or a million other things). What kind of love did He show? The truth is, He does show love when He gives you the strength to endure. Even though, at the time, you may not realize the strength that He is giving to you. Sometimes, it’s when you look back and say to yourself “How did I ever get through that?” God tells us there will be troubled times. This is a dark world that we live in, but He is the light. If we don’t have to endure troubled times, then we never learn to lean on Him. We are proud. We are self-serving, enjoying all that makes us feel good and satisfying our fleshly bodies. But, we don’t seek God and we don’t hope. We don’t search for that innate sense of something better or divine waiting for us. If we don’t seek God, then we can’t feel the peace that comes from His perfect Love. The kind of peace that comes when you have had a horrible day and you realize that He loves you enough that you has given you an inner peace in your heart. It’s the kind of peace when you are standing in the shower sobbing and praying and you feel His love wash over you from head to toe, leaving you smiling without a tear. This is a peace that leaves you feeling as though you are never alone. It is also hope. Hope that God is giving you through an act of love. It’s protection that you feel when you are driving down the road worshiping God, and you clearly hear a voice from the back seat say “I am riding with you”. You hear it so clearly, in fact, that you reflexively look in the mirror to speak to the voice. That is God’s display of love though giving hope, trust and protection. Everyday we sin and everyday that we wake up again, we get a do-over. That is God’s display of patience, giving us yet another opportunity to seek Him and to serve Him….no matter what we did the day before. He doesn’t keep a score of the number of wrongs and tell us we are out after x-amount of chances. He shows us love by being patient day after day after day. How many do-overs do we offer?

In Exodus 17:1-6 (NIV), God’s kindness was shown when the Israelites quarreled with Moses about having no water to drink as they left Egypt. Even though they grumbled and fussed without seeking God in prayer, Moses did pray, for he feared they would stone him. In an act of kindness to the Israelites, God displayed love by giving water from a rock. 1 John 4:8 tells us that “…God is love”. God sent His one and only Son to die on the cross for you and for me. He gave His child to the world for us. The ultimate sacrifice. Ephesians 3:17-18 says “…And I pray that you being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ”. Wide and long, high and deep. The Cross. The Cross for which God loved you so much that He sent His only Son to hang on for the sake of not keeping a record of wrongs, but forgiving, so that He could spend Eternity with you. Are you keeping a record of wrongs? What would you do for God? What is your “act of doing”? How will you display love for God? How will you let God display love through you?

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