Today’s guest post is contributed by Tammy Vanella, a writer, dog-lover and minister of the gospel from Northern California.
As I was driving home from work one day, a huge red billboard caught my eye. On display was a realistic likeness of a rather stunning diamond ring. Next to the ring were two words written in tall, white letters: “Love Happens”. At first I thought, “Aww…how sweet.” But then it struck me. “Wait a minute! Love Happens?! That’s it?”
Bamboozled by romance, and dazzled by diamonds, this is how the world teaches love – that it just happens.
To think love simply happens left me with feelings of bleak hopelessness. In fact, one of the definitions for the word “happens” is to “come about by chance.” It’s pretty scary to consider that something so important could be left up to chance. This means no one would have a say in the matter nor any part in its overall purpose.
Is love really left to chance? Are we supposed to simply hope we get lucky in love, or is there more to it?
Love is often misunderstood. Many have sought to obtain it, confine it or define it. Our cultural influences would have us believe love is a battlefield, love hurts, that we’re addicted to it or, worst of all, that it means never having to say you’re sorry. I’ll admit, I used to buy into the world’s definition of love too. But as I have grown and matured in my relationship with God, I have learned a purer truth for this thing called love.
Love is much greater than we make it.
1 Corinthians 13:1-13 says: “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
The word “love” is actually used more than 700 times in the Bible, and is referenced in every book of the Bible. It is central to who God is and who we are.
Love does not just happen – love aspires!
It encourages toward good deeds – provides great joy and encouragement. It is our crown. It pursues, draws us near and is lavishing. It is shareable. It builds up and is patient, kind, gentle, self-controlled – rejoicing with the truth. It binds all other virtues together in perfect unity and is made complete in us. It is better than life.
Love is not fleeting – love commits!
It is abounding and keeps us from the pit of destruction. It silences our enemies and destroys our foes. It is a binding covenant. It is demonstrated in action, truth and peace. It is a measuring rod, our root and establishment. It bears with one another. It comes from a good heart, pure conscience and a sincere faith. It is unfailing.
Love does not fail – love endures!
It reaches to the heavens, stands firm forever and is unshakable. It continues through all generations – is both timely and timeless. It is unquenchable, inseparable and undying. It quiets us when we are troubled. It is forever.
Love does not withhold – love sacrifices!
It is our sure salvation. It atones for our sins. It delivers us from the depths of the grave, redeems us, lifts us up and carries us. It is offered freely. It is priceless.
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. (1 John 3:16 NIV)
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1 John 4:10 NIV)
God is love and Christ is our one, sure chance of encountering it. We only understand it once we willingly enter into an intimate relationship with God who, by His very nature, is love – and because He is love, we can be confident that nothing is left to chance.