Thoughts on Love
By Dr. Matt Nelson – Dean, College of Social & Behavioral Sciences
How does God define love?
I sometimes wonder, How important is love in God’s economy? In scripture, the Apostle John writes, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus is quoted as saying, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength [and] Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:29-31). In the Gospel of John, Jesus is recorded as saying, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35).
The Apostle Paul writes, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. Love never fails” (I Corinthians 13:4-8).
Selfish versus Selfless
I am not surprised as I review the characteristics outlined in 1 Corinthians 13 that they boil down to an individual’s internal battle between selfishness versus selflessness. Your life can be placed on a continuum of selfishness versus selflessness.
As a child, I was the youngest of two and my sister was eleven years older than me. As a result, she went off to college when I was young and I was raised like an only child. Consequently, I never had to share my toys, my room, or my parents’ time. This environment was a breeding ground for selfishness.
One of God’s ways of ridding me of my selfishness was blessing me with three children of my own. Through my children, God has taught me many lessons about the importance of being selfless. I wonder sometimes if the way my children treat me is similar to the way I treat God. Am I so unaware of my selfishness that I regularly act selfish toward God and completely miss the lessons He is teaching me?
What would I do if I really loved them?
Chip Anderson, former Professor of Education at UCLA, asks the question: “What would I do if I really loved them?” As a student: What would I do if I really loved my fellow students and my professors? As a roommate? As a son or daughter? As an employee or employer?
As we express love to our friends and family through the Valentine’s Day celebration, I ask you these questions:
What would you do if you really loved your friends and family as Christ loves you?
How would your love be different if you loved them with the selfless love described in 1 Corinthians chapter 13?
What would you do if you really loved them?