Have you ever been in, or witnessed a one-sided relationship?
It is probably one of the most uncomfortable situations you will ever experience. One person is loyal, passionate and devoted, while the other is, well, not so enthusiastic… In my opinion, this is a perfect recipe for disaster. That is why I don’t recommend getting into relationships where there is not mutual love and respect. When you start out with a disadvantage like this, you can only expect an uphill battle from here on out. And, while our habits of expressing love are only part of the equation, they can signal the start of long term dysfunctional relationship dynamics.
This goes for friendships as well. While there may be times that we will have to pick up the slack and help a struggling friend in need, this should not become a permanent situation (barring unique circumstances such as significant disabilities). Love is a two-way street. And at times, boundaries will need to be put in place if we are to achieve healthy relationships.
In an ideal world we would never end up in one-sided relationships…
And yet, God’s relationship with us often falls into this category.
Christ loves us with a genuine, unconditional love. But instead of reciprocating, we often love him half-heartedly, or reject him entirely. Nonetheless, he continues to love us. In fact, the way we learn to love is by first experiencing the love that he has offered us (1 John 4:19). Fortunately he took this initiative, because knowing how to give and receive love is essential to living a victorious life in Christ.
So how do we know if we’re getting it right?
As it so happens, God actually spells out his definition of perfect love through Paul in 1 Corinthians. While there are a number of passages that discuss the topic of love, one passage in particular seems to do a thorough job of laying the basics out for us. Here is what the apostle wrote to the Corinthian church about the subject-
1 Corinthians 13 (NLT)-. ”If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”
In other words, love isn’t cheap!
Love takes commitment. It doesn’t give up. When a person truly loves someone, they won’t throw in the towel at the first sign of conflict. They won’t abandon loved ones when inconveniences come. They won’t run away the moment a relationship requires something beyond their comfort zone.
While the world may praise people who are self-involved, Christ instead praises those who are humble and compassionate toward others.
Doing love the right way isn’t always easy.
There may be times when we’d rather do what is safe and comfortable. Sometimes we lack the wisdom and passion we need in order for Christ to express his love through us. Not to mention, there are times we may find ourselves attached to people who are less than loving toward us themselves. We may find ourselves falling victim to our attachment style rather than leaning on Jesus to give us the strength we need to make the right decisions.
Even so, I believe that learning to love like Christ is completely possible for believers who seek to know him genuinely.
While Paul’s description of love may seem unachievable, it is nonetheless an accurate description of what genuine love is all about. It could almost be likened to an inspired poem detailing the perfect nature of God’s love toward us.
See, while we may struggle in the relationships department, our savior is never lacking. He is never cold or distant. He is never harsh or impatient. In fact, Jesus is the absolute epitome of unconditional love. He feels an intimate connection to us that is unlike that of any human being.
And that is why you and I require his help.
We may never measure up to the kind of sacrificial love that Christ has generously gifted upon us. We may never know what it means to love perfectly while we remain on earth. However, with his spirit inside of us, we can transform the way we speak and act toward others. We can become healthy and whole; secure and dependable.
We can love the way we are supposed to love, if we choose to give our hearts to right one…
The one who is love defined.
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