Wednesday, 25 July 2012
LOVE: WORDS, FEELINGS OR ACTION?
The basic motivating force in love is a desire to give.
Billionaire investor and philanthropist, the late Sir John Templeton, is well-known for devoting millions toward increasing our knowledge of unlimited love through scientific research and education.
Agape, he says, is “love that gives you joy and helps you grow by giving love. You don’t grow much by getting love; most growth in life is by giving love.”
Everyone, Templeton adds, should give more thought to how to be more loving. He honours Mother Teresa, the first winner of the Templeton Prize in 1973, as the greatest example of lifetime love.
Let’s now consider several scenarios to see whether love is truly evident or not.
ACTION BUT NO WORDS
Recently I visited a grieving couple whose teenage son perished in a car accident. What do you do when you set out to comfort someone in grief but your mind draws a blank?
All I could do was look them in the eye while grasping their hands. For a few moments, the gaze, touch and silence “spoke”, as if in empathy.
Words did not matter; what was important was being there for them when they needed emotional support.
Looking back, I wish I had some comforting words. But then again, when love is the motive, are words necessary?
WORDS BUT NO ACTION
One cannot love without giving one’s time, energy or resources. This is because love requires action, not mere words.
“Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?” (James 2:15-16).
FEELINGS BUT NO ACTION
Some may think that loving God is that wonderful feeling we experience when we are caught up in heavenly worship.
But it’s more than that. Jesus makes it plain: “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching” (John 14:23). Love me? Then obey me.
Wonderful worship without obedience is not love.
LOVE WITH ULTERIOR MOTIVE
One may give something precious to someone but love is absent because of tainted motives (1 Corinthians 13:3).
A casanova woos a lady with a promise of marriage. He showers her with expensive gifts and whispers sweet nothings in her ears. Then, after gaining her trust, he asks her for money to settle his debts. Completely besotted, the naïve lady, thrilled by the imminent sound of wedding bells, gives him half her life savings.
If love is difficult to grasp, we have to admit that God made it so much easier for us through Jesus. Fleshed out in a person—the God-man Jesus—love is no longer a vague concept.
We see love personified in Jesus who, while dying at the cross, entrusted Mary to John’s care (John 19:26, 27). He was selfless, thinking of his mother, even at the lowest point of His life.
And His last words, Forgive them for they know not what they do, can only come from One completely free from bitterness towards those who whipped, ridiculed and hung Him at the cross.
This is the perfect example of love: A God who gave of himself. He loved us so much that He became man and died on the cross for our sins. To those who believe in Him, He offers a new life — our sins forgiven, the right to become a child of God and a secured place in heaven when we die.
When man's examples of love fail us, we just have to look to Christ at the cross.
THE JOY OF GIVING