What is your No. 1 goal in life? What is most important to you? For some, it might be to be happy or to succeed in a career. Others may wish to be wealthy or comfortable or popular.
Everyone has a dominant life principle. You may have never thought it through, but you use one all the time. If your goal is to have fun, you base what you will or will not do on how much fun it appears to be. If you dominant life principle is comfort, then you probably will spend a lot of time in the comfort of your home. Your No. 1 goal will determine what you will do or not do. It is important to think through what is going to be the most important value for you in your life.
What does faith say on this subject? The Bible teaches us to make love our greatest aim. Not statue or success, not possessions or comfort or money. Why? Because God is love and he wished for you to experience him. God created everything out of love, even you. Maybe at times you have wondered "Why am I here?" It is all about love. Jesus one day was asked what is most important, and he said, love the Lord with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength. And love your neighbor as yourself. The purpose of life is to learn to love God and love other people.
This means that Christians are to be experts in love. We are called to do everything in love. Love is what we are called to be about.
Truth is, we may hear the word floated around a lot but learning to be loving in our relationships is something all of us need help in improving. I don't think any of us are love experts. I believe the expert in love was Jesus Christ. And so we need to learn to turn to Christ to teach us.
There are some basics about love:
1. We love as people of faith because God loves us. I John 4:7-8: All love comes from God. The reason you have the ability to love is because God is love. Sometimes I have heard people say, I just don't love God enough. This is not the problem. The problem is, when we are thinking such thoughts, we are not simply realizing how much God loves us. When we begin to realize the depth of his love, we naturally love him back. In the process, we begin to give others some slack. When we realize his love for us, we become more patient and merciful.
2. The Bible teaches us that love is a choice and a commitment. Sometimes people accept the myth that love is uncontrollable. Love just happens to people. Truth is, love is a choice. We need to learn to lead our hearts. Sometimes I hear people say, I fell in love, as if you can fall in love like you fall in a ditch or something. Attraction just happens, arousal happens, but love is a choice. You choose to love God; he does not force himself upon you. Likewise, all love is a choice.
3. Love is an action, not just an emotion. I John 3:18 tells us to love not with words or tongue, but with action and truth. When we love people, it changes how we act towards them. Love is a behavior. The Bible commands us to love each other. You cannot command an emotion. Be sad. Be happy. Easier said than done. We do not command emotions. But we are called to love. Love is the decision to get up in the middle of the night and check on your child, even when you are tired. Love is something you do.
4. Love is a skill. Love is a skill that can be learned. I John 4:7 says, dear friends, let us practice loving each other. Christian people let us practice love. When you work on a new skill, at first it feels awkward, but with time we become more and more skilled at doing it until it feels natural. Likewise with learning how to love, we are called to grow in our ability to love. How are you doing with people who are hard to love? How are you doing in learning to love those who irritate you, who are unlovely?
Life truly is all about love. So let's get on with doing what matters. Let us learn and grow in our ability to love God, and to love one another.
(The opinions of this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Inter-Mountain, the Randolph County Ministerial Association or the author's church affiliation.)