Friday, August 19, 2016

Romans 13:10 -- On Love

"Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law."
Romans 13:10

I think we get confused sometimes about what love is.  We write songs about it and we claim to have experienced it, but so much of what we talk about is physical or superficial.  Even if we were only talking about romantic love, we range from believing in the teen vampire novel ideal of a love that drives us to suicide if we don't have it, and prevents us from making our own choices, or the popular song ideal of being willing to do anything just to sleep with someone, and having that somehow be a good and fulfilling way to live.  We think that love is just some obsessive crush that somehow lasts forever, always at that same height of emotion.  Except it isn't that... or if that is a part of it, it is a microscopic part of the whole that is true love.  Perhaps a brief crush gets us interested in someone, but after that there is a lot more involved.

When God talks about love, he isn't talking about something that is limited to romantic love, and he isn't talking about something that has "obsession" listed as a synonym.  He's talking about something deeper and more complex... something that takes time, and commitment, and energy.  The love that God advocates would never tempt us to sin, or encourage us to harm others.  It isn't what drives fornication and adultery.  Love and lust are not the same emotion.

When God asks us to love our neighbors as ourselves, he's talking about that sort of love that we have for ourselves, where we're willing to see our faults as temporary, notice our improvements, and keep trying.  The sort of love where we never write ourselves off as worthless, but we know that we are good down deep... we just need to keep working at it.  The sort of love that allows us to see reality, to know that we have a lot to improve, but still know that we matter to God, and that there is hope.  When we have that sort of love for others, we aren't blind to their faults, but we choose to live with them.  We focus on the good, and we see the positive and the beauty that is within us all.  We would never want to harm that person by tempting them to sin, or by pulling them down so that we can be higher.  We rejoice in their triumphs because we want to see them succeed and grow and flourish.  That's why love is the fulfilling of the law, because if we really, truly loved other people in God's way, we would probably never even argue with them... we'd love them so much that we would bend over backwards to see their point of view, and tell them our point of view so they could consider it... but we would always assume that they were doing the best they could, and still learning.

Let's remember that love fulfills all of God's laws, and stop and sort it from other emotions if we think that we are motivated to do something bad based on love.  Today, let's try to really love the people around us, whether they are romantic interests or not.  Let's work on really getting to know others and assume good intentions rather than getting defensive.  Let's also learn to love God, and get to know him as well.  He is what love is all about, and the more we get to know him, the more we will understand.

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