Morning Notes & Stories: What is Love?
When we truly love someone or something, we take care of it. This is why I have struggled in life with people who rant and rave about how much they love something then treat it poorly. If we don’t water our plants, they die. If we don’t feed our pets, they die. If we invest nothing in our relationships, they die. Yes, there are times where we are not as connected or people grow apart. If we mistreat people, most likely, they will not wish to stay connected to mistreatment.
I do know the people I love, I think about them, I try to reach out sometimes. I cannot do that with thousands of people. I can do that with several dozen. Hey, how are you? I don’t want anything, just checking in or saying I was thinking about you. I try not to harm people. If we can not be a mega blessing, we can at least not harm people.
Love is not just a pretty word. It is a lifestyle of stewarding people, resources, time like it has significant value and impact. When we truly value something or someone, we do not put ourselves in a position to lose them. When we truly value ourselves, then we can love our neighbor AS ourselves.
Beloved children, our love can’t be an abstract theory we only talk about, but a way of life demonstrated through our loving deeds,~1 John 3:18 (The Passion Translation).
Over the course of my life I have met numerous people who say boldly, “I love this person so very much,” yet there is no evidence. Their actions do not demonstrate love, genuine concern, value. I asked God about this. He said, “People can only give away the love they have received. If they have not received My love for them, they will have nothing to give to you or anyone else. People who do not love themselves cannot love anyone else. The way they love Me and receive love from Me will be the way they love you.”
I have stated again and again that the order of love is not God first, others second, and us last. It’s not in the Bible. The Bible says, “We love because God first loves us.” It then says, “Love God, then love your neighbor AS you love yourself.” So the order of love is as follows:
God loves us first
We receive God’s love for ourselves
We love God
We love ourselves
We love our neighbor AS we love ourselves
God invites us to abide in this overflow of His love and I tell you we then are not forced, it comes naturally to love Him and others. I used to try the love God, love others, and put myself last. I mean that was humility right? I will tell you I mostly felt used, was grossly mistreated. Why? If we do not demonstrate love and value for ourselves, others will not either. The martyr becomes the doormat people wipe their feet on with no remorse. Give until it hurts is not wisdom. Wisdom says, “What is proper in this situation? Healthy self esteem and boundaries says, “I will love you the way I love me. I will talk to you the way I talk to myself. I will invest wisely.”
I had a lady I was helping get to church once. She was rude, slammed my car door-even when asked not to, called to dump her issues on me. I thought because Christianity can sometimes condition people to put up with crap Jesus would not put up with that I was just to turn the other cheek. Well I grew tired of her mistreatment and rudeness. She was treating me the way I let her. I will tell you I was far more fiesty before stepping into leadership. She would have slammed my door one time and had an instant come to Jesus moment. I eventually told this woman I was not going to subject myself to her poor treatment. I drove miles out of the way to get her each Sunday. Having a ride was a gift, not an obligation. She eventually stopped riding with me.
Love as stated before, does not position itself to lose what it values. She did not value being picked up and not paying gas. She did not value the situation so she lost it.
My last point is value yourself. It’s not pride. The bible says, “Do not think more highly of yourself than you ought to.” It does not say, “Be a doormat. Treat yourself like garbage. Think you are nothing and not worthy of being treated well.” To insult God’s handiwork is to insult God. God doesn’t create junk.
After college I was going through a phase where I was quite unhappy with the relationships I had. I did not feel valued by most of those people. I was never petty and did not understand why people acted in such a way. God posed the question of why I was choosing to be connected to those people. I thought it was the Christian thing to do. Befriend everyone. I learned I am to love people, and be friendly/kind, yet close friendship was reserved for certain people.
When we value ourselves, we value what we have to offer as well. We see that time wasted is not returned. If people choose to mistreat us, we set boundaries and for some people put distance. We do not owe anyone best friendship or a close relationship.
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