Three Words That Demand Our Life by Elizabeth Margaret
Introduction – Sacrificial Love
I recall one Sunday afternoon when I was fifteen years of age questioning if I truly knew what it meant to say “I love you.”
Since I had recently said it prior that morning the wheel in my brain nagged at my heart. In fact, it sickened me to my stomach.
Never in my life had I felt so guilty. But why? What crime had I committed? The only crime I could conjure was that I didn’t understand the real meaning of the phrase that I let slip from my tongue.“Many of us assume that love is just feeling that you like someone or something, but that’s as far from the truth as you can get.”
Often people, including myself, mix or confuse the phrase “I love you” with “I like you.” This is becoming more and more common in the world today.
I didn’t realize that saying “I love you” would demand my life, and I’m not the only one who has failed to understand this.
Many of us assume that love is just feeling that you like someone or something, but that’s as far from the truth as you can get.
Love is not merely a feeling centered on or defined by good pleasure; love is a choice, a choice to love someone despite another person’s flaws.
Ultimately, love demands much of us, and seeing that we’re approaching Valentine’s Day, let’s dive deeper and learn what love costs so that we can love people better.
What Love Demands of Us
When we start searching Scripture for the word “love” we might end up reading 1 Corinthians 13 which is known as the “love passage.”
Though this passage is common at weddings it is far from romantic. In its proper context the situation at hand had nothing to do with a man and a woman but rather with church members fighting about whose spiritual gifts were the best.“A mistake that can sometimes creep into our understanding of the Bible is that we can become too comfortable with a particular passage.”
Paul, amid the argument, reminds the Corinthian Church that all of their gifts are in vain if it they are not done with love.
A mistake that can sometimes creep into our understanding of the Bible is that we can become too comfortable with a particular passage.
This happened to me, when I questioned what love is, I responded with and simply quoted 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 with little thought.
In fact, I memorized the passage at the age of nine but it had yet to truly sink in, especially verses four through seven. I didn’t realize that those verses were listing things that love required from me.“The greatest love is laying down one’s life for another.”
Additionally, though some of us might be tempted to create a checklist out of these verses to follow when it comes to love, we shouldn’t be so quick to take that approach.
Instead, we need to remember Ephesians 5:25 which commands husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the Church. It also explains how Christ loved the Church and how He gave His life for her. Love costs much.
We have to remember too that these verses don’t just apply to husbands – as if sacrificial love is only commanded of them. Rather, sacrificial love is demanded of all believers.
We learn in John 15:13 that “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
The greatest love is laying down one’s life for another.“Love is giving one’s entire life for another. Whether that be physically dying so another can live or dying to one’s wants to serve someone else.”
Even still, we can also examine the two greatest commandments. The first is to “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” – our entire being (Matt. 22:37). Love demands that we cast aside our wants, and our desires, and instead focus on God’s wants and desires.
The second commandment is to “love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matt. 22:39). Though some will claim we must love ourselves before loving others, this is a gross mischaracterization of true, biblical love.
As fallen humans we naturally love ourselves. Even when we hate ourselves we can wind up loving ourselves in a twisted way because doing so implies we love ourselves so much that we always assume we deserve better.
Much of the time we’re so self-centered and self-focused that we cannot see how we affect others.“What you’re really saying when you say “I love you,” is “I am dying to my own desires, in order to pursue what is best for you.”
Love demands that we die to selfishness, and that we replace the effort and energy we put into comforting ourselves, and direct it instead into loving, serving, and looking out for the best interests of others.
Love is more than a checklist in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. Love is giving one’s entire life for another. Whether that be physically dying so another can live or dying to one’s wants to serve someone else.
Therefore, “I love you” – three simple words – demand our life. Because what you’re really saying when you say “I love you,” is “I am dying to my own desires, in order to pursue what is best for you.”
This is true love, this is love that is not contingent on feelings that come and go. This love never ends as 1 Corinthians 13:8 states.
Conclusion – Jesus’ Example of True Love
Yes, love requires much of us, and it can be hard to love well. However, we can look to Jesus as our example. He demonstrated the greatest love of all when He died on the cross so that mankind could be reconciled back to God.
Jesus laid down His life for those who hung Him on the cross, for those who cursed Him, for those who rebelled against Him, and for those who turned their backs on Him.
He died for all of us, for you and for me, even when we’ve willingly disobeyed and strayed from Him. There’s no greater example of love than that.“We can look to Jesus as our example. He demonstrated the greatest love of all when He died on the cross so that mankind could be reconciled back to God.”
Love truly demands our life. It’s like giving someone else a hammer to either build or destroy us. When Jesus loved the world, many rejected him. They took his love and used hammers to nail him to the cross. Yet Jesus loved them anyway. That’s true love.
As Isaac Watt’s penned in his wonderful hymn, When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, “Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.”
May we take these words to heart, and remember them the next time we say “I love you.”
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