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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Love, God's Way

December 17, 2009

A Gut Honest Look at Love

Lysa TerKeurst

"...if I have faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing."

1 Corinthians 13:2 (NIV)


As the holidays approach, I have to be careful about developing an overly ideal view of love. Sometimes I'm guilty of setting the expectations so high of what a 'love filled' Christmas should be that it dooms me to feeling disappointed and grumpy. Ever been there?

Well, this year I am feeling challenged to look at love a little differently. I don't want to repeat a habit that I've had from the past where I expect unrealistic things from those I love. I used to hold out the little cup of my heart to my husband, "Will you fill my empty spaces? Will you do that one really romantic thing that makes me feel like I'm the most terrific and special woman in the world?"

Then I would hold it out to my children, "Will you fill up my empty spaces? Will you do something that makes me look really good as a mom so I'll feel a little more validated?"

Then I would hold it out to my friends, "Will you fill up my empty spaces? Will you provide something today that makes me feel more included and significant?"

Maybe Christmas is an odd time to consider such things.

Or, maybe this season celebrating Jesus is the perfect time to hit the reset button on my sometimes frail heart. Love is a tricky thing. Our hearts were created to crave it. But misplaced expectations from love can wreak havoc in a person's heart.

God proclaims in 1 Corinthians 13:8 that love never fails. And in the quietness of my heart that verse makes me squirm a bit. I see love failing all the time. Or do I?

If my only view of love is what it will give me, love from others will fail me every time. It's not that love fails. It's that other people were never meant to be my God. Even a great husband, wonderful children and a thriving ministry can never truly fill me up, right all my wrongs, and soothe those deep insecurities. Not at Christmas. Not at any other time of the year.

No, I can't read 1 Corinthians chapter 13 with eyes hungry to see what love should give me and then demand it from those around me. I should read those steadfast Scriptures with the realization that this is the kind of love God gives to me. And this is the kind of love I can choose to give to other people.

I can choose that my love will be patient. My love will be kind. My love won't keep a record of wrongs. (Ouch - that's a hard one, right?)

I can choose that my love will protect and persevere.

And I can choose to lay the cup of my heart at Jesus' feet and stop twirling, twirling, twirling...hoping- demanding- that those around me do things for me they were never meant to do.

Interestingly enough, when I read 1 Corinthians 13 again this morning I found an odd yet perfect verse toward the end of this chapter. "When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me" (verse 11).

Yes indeed. How funny I never connected that verse about putting away childish things with 1 Corinthians 13 - known as the chapter of love. Oh how we have the propensity to grow in other areas while keeping such a childish, selfish view of love.

Love isn't what I have the opportunity to get from this world. Love is what I have the opportunity to give. And I guess there's no more appropriate time to remember this than Christmas.

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