Recently I heard the best definition of love: “Doing what is best for another person at your own great expense.”
It is easy to love someone when it coincides with what you want: I loved Cam Newton when the Panthers were 15-1; now I love Christian McCaffrey (in that rabid fan sort of way). Our culture suggests that love is an emotional feeling that “completes” us. Like soul mates finding their star-crossed lover, it brings us happiness. Love is an emotional high.
In marriage, it is easy to love your spouse when you are both aligned. It is easy to feel love on your wedding day. However, it is when your spouse’s desire will cost you
something everything that true love emerges.
Remember, true love is doing what is best for another person at your own great expense. One of the first descriptions of Christians by a non-Christian came from historian Lucian who categorized Christians as crazy people who show “their absurd generosity and their sacrificial concern for others, whom they did not even know by name.” This is the absurdity of love–it should cost you something.
In 2 Samuel 4, there is an interesting little story about some mercaneries who think they are doing the will of God by murdering Saul’s son. David had been anointed the new king, and Saul–the sitting king–had died. His son was the heir to the throne, but David had been appointed by God. Therefore, the mercenaries assumed that by murdering Saul’s son they were helping to fulfill God’s desire. They thought their actions honored God and showed their love for David. So they eagerly ran to David to tell them the great news, probably secretly assuming that they would get a seat of honor in David’s new kingdom. However, when David heard what they had done, had them killed. While a strange vignette, it gave me great pause.
It’s easy to do God’s will when it will personally benefit you. But, what if it were to cost you everything?
What if you know you will be fired if you told your boss that you could not fulfill his unethical request? What if you suspect that your boyfriend would dump you if you told him you were no longer comfortable with your physical relationship? What if you would lose your drinking buddies if you felt that your drinking was out of control? What if you would be socially isolated if you let the teacher know about other students cheating?
Loving God means putting the interests of another above your own. It is costly.
But we are told we are able to love like this because God first loved us.
We love because He first loved us.1 John 4:19
This is precisely the type of love Jesus Christ displays. His love for you cost Him everything. He was socially isolated. He was scorned by everyone. He left heaven in order to be with you. He, who knew no sin, felt the weight of all sin. Every step of the way, he put your interests above His own. If He loved you like that, how can you start to love others like that?
Really practically…what is one thing you could do today for ______________ so that their personal interest will cost you something?