The term 'love' can be defined in many different ways by many different people.
Secular society seems to redefine it however they wish—sometimes seemingly influenced by present trends. Whilst true love does still manage to filter through, the value of it becomes tarnished.
Working in a secular industry, I come across a good cross section of people of all walks.
One point which really stands out about those who do not seem to want know the Lord, is their redefinition of morality—dare I say—to fit in with their lusts and desires. If you deny the Bible had its origins beyond man, then people are free to re-define morality however they wish.
I knew of a guy several years ago, who openly admitted he simultaneously had two long term girlfriends who did not know about each other. When I quizzed him about his beliefs on love, it became immediately apparent that he had seared his conscience to believe the virtue of love how he wanted it defined: that he truly loves them.
So what really is love? Saying 'I love you' really has little essence unless it is backed up by action, and that action has its roots in God's word.
Words vs action
Let's say that you love your children, as you hopefully would. You tell them this regularly, 'I love you' but then you go and spend all your spare time watching TV series, browsing your favourite Facebook groups or pursuing your hobbies.
Is it really showing them love that you cannot spare 30 minutes from your day to spend with them? The same goes for your spouse.
If you do not give them your time then how are you showing your love?
We have all heard about marriage breakups where the reason for divorce was 'we just grew apart'. These couples obviously loved each other enough to marry at one stage, so what happened?
The chances are part of the problem was they spent little time propagating and growing their love, perhaps becoming focused on things like careers and children.
Just like watering a plant, you can say 'I love my herb garden' but unless you put it into action by watering and caring for the plants, they will eventually wither and die.
The pain of love
Love requires the sacrifice of time, on our behalf, in order to play out.
If we do not learn to sacrifice and maintain selflessness with our time, we can expect nothing less than the relationships with those we love, to gradually wither away and God forbid, die.
The truth is, loving someone can hurt at times and make you want to flee. It involves sacrifice, and I do not just mean getting off your favourite computer game to talk to your spouse.
Those who you love the most, and give to the most, can turn around and throw it all back in your face, making you feel unloved and used, amongst a myriad of other negative feelings.
These I find, are the hardest times—when you have a legitimate excuse not to love.
I find the best way to combat this is to remember the principle of love; your use of love as the person doing the loving, is no doubt is a core principle of who you are; and because showing it may not pan out in a reciprocal manner, you can still stick to a principle for the reason that you are honouring God in a pretty big way.
Sometimes someone may be unable to show love for a number of reasons—it is through these times that the love virtues of long suffering and sacrifice play out.
As long and painful road as it may be, following Gods definition of the love virtues will always end in joy; but it can take time.
True sacrifice is showing love when the person you are showing it to probably does not deserve it and may not even return it.
Just like you and I do not deserve our salvation—but through God's sacrifice of Jesus on the cross he gave it to us unconditionally.
By this we know God put love into action and did not just talk about it. The well-known John chapter 3, verse 16 states 'For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in him will have everlasting life.'
Imagine if it read 'For God so loved the world that he sat back and watched mankind fall apart as he shook his head and walked away.'
Love is action.
I know we all hear a lot about love, but all around me I see the love of many growing cold in so many ways—which scares me as the Bible does state that in the last days the love of many will grow cold.
As simple as this is and as often as it is preached, I feel it is a core principle that we need to remind ourselves of daily and address in a self-reflective manner in order for our love not to grow cold.
1 John chapter 3, verse 18: 'Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.'
Michael Dahlenburg is an electronics engineer currently working in the ATM industry. He is non-denominational and has previously been involved in church plants and assisting those in ministry. His interests include; enjoying family, home DIY, gardening, most things tech-related and driving his wife crazy with a constant stream of inventions! You can view his blog site here: www.mickdahl.weebly.com
He lives with his wife Michelle and three children in God's own land of Southern Adelaide, Australia.
Michael Dahlenburg's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/michael-dahlenburg.html