Have you noticed the enchanting and sentimental feelings that take place the week of Valentine’s Day? Almost everywhere you go, you see red hearts, balloons, heart shaped chocolates, and many other gifts to help express our affection to the special people in our lives. The saying “Love is in the air.” is seen on various advertisements. I must admit that I am a “diehard” sentimental person who delights in giving and receiving charming tokens of love. I greatly cherish my dinner dates with my husband and look for ways to express my love to our four beautiful daughters. However, much of the love that is expressed today is extremely selfish and shallow. Why are there so many broken relationships and hurting people even among Christian circles? Have we also been negatively influenced?
We can see the results of many hurting people looking for love in numerous places. Drugs, alcohol, pornography, food addictions, homosexual relationships, and many other things are used to satisfy their desire for true love and acceptance. Unfortunately, each of these things only hinder us from experiencing what our heart’s truly yearn for.
When we look at what our culture is teaching us regarding love, we see a tremendously shallow picture that is drastically different from the godly love that Jesus exemplified. Young boys and men are bombarded on many fronts with the belief that sexual gratification is equivalent to love. Women are influenced to believe that a romantic relationship will bring happiness, security, fulfillment, and a sense of identity. In reality, only God can satisfy these needs. With any of these false beliefs, our relationships will become an idol to us rather than a picturesque example of God’s love.
It is vital that we demonstrate the accurate definition of love to our children. They will be able to discern the counterfeit of love when we as parents exemplify true love in our marriages. We need to do everything possible to guard our sons from pornography and our daughters from the unrealistic and unattainable love that many novels and movies portray. This can cause unhealthy expectations and many strains in relationships.
There are three levels of love, but only one kind produces genuine fulfillment. The first kind of love is a sensual love that only looks for personal gratification and doesn’t care whether others are hurt in the process. The second kind of love is based on performance. “I will love you if you love me in return, but if you don’t give me what I think I deserve, I will be ‘out of here’.” This love goes into a marriage with the mentality that there is a door on the other side if I need to get out.
The last kind of love is the one that Jesus demonstrated. He gave His very life for us while we were sinners; we were not giving Him anything in return. (Romans 5:10) This is the kind of love that God desires for us to have toward others – especially our spouses! In John 13:34 God says, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” Notice the word commandment. This isn’t a suggestion or a request. It is a command! When we have this kind of love, we love regardless if we get anything in return or not. God helps us to love through our spirits rather than through the emotions of our soul. This love is ONLY possible when we have been granted the privilege to be called an heir of God. As God’s children, we are given the responsibility of inheriting and continuing the legacy of love found in the Lord Jesus Christ. (Galations 4:7, Romans 8:17)
The love that is in the air is shallow and temporal, but the love that is found in the heir of God is lasting and unconditional. Our relationships should be demonstrating the beautiful picture of Christ’s love for the church. How are you demonstrating God’s agape love to those in your life? Is there evidence in your life that you have been influenced by Satan’s counterfeit? The world needs to see what true love looks like!