What is ‘True’ Love? [v48]

FEBRUARY 2003

WHAT IS “TRUE” LOVE?—In a few weeks many of us will try to give that special someone a token of our ‘love’ for them. Each year we Americans buy millions of roses and boxes of candy for Valentine’s Day.

In the 60’s, Jackie DeShannon had a hit song that still seems to resonate in all of us today. It went, “What the world needs now is love, sweet love, It’s the only thing there’s just too little of.”

Everyone is looking for love. But what is the love we all want and need? What does ‘real’ love look like? How will we know when we’ve found it?

Several years ago, Thomas Malone, a psychiatrist in Atlanta said, “Almost every emotional problem can be summed up in one particular bit of behavior. It’s a person walking around screaming, ‘Love me! Love Me!’ That’s all. He goes through a million manipulations to get somebody to love him.” The late Eric Fromm, also a noted figure in the mental health field, said, “The final goal in all therapy is to release within the individual a greater capacity for love.”

The songwriters and the therapists did not make a new discovery in our time. Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” [John 13:34].

In one way or another you can trace the root cause of practically all human conflict and degeneracy to a lack of love—we neither understand nor properly practice it. But why is it so hard? If love is the answer to some of life’s worst problems, then why don’t more people do it? Will people really punish themselves and refuse to provide what they need for emotional and spiritual survival? Apparently so, but I think that there is really a few reasons why people don’t ‘truly’ love.

Most of us confuse love with sentimentality. Some people don’t think you love at all if you don’t have warm, tender, caring feelings. Husbands and wives walk away from each other with the lame excuse, “I don’t love him/her anymore.” What people actually mean when they say that kind of thing is that their ‘sentimental feelings’ are no longer present.

Romantic love is the single greatest ‘energy system’ in the Western psyche. In our culture it has supplanted religion as the arena in which men and women seek meaning, transcendence, wholeness, and ecstasy. When we are “in love,” we believe we have found the ultimate meaning of life—revealed in another human being. We feel we are finally ‘completed’—that we have found the missing parts of ourselves. Life suddenly seems to have a ‘wholeness’, a super-human intensity that lifts us high above the ordinary pain of existence. For us, these are the sure signs of “true love.” The psychological ‘package’ then includes this ‘unconscious demand’ that our lover or spouse always provides us with this feeling of ecstasy and intensity.

But that’s not love in the truest sense. Again, consider the words of Jesus. “Love your neighbor as yourself” [Matthew 22:39], and “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” [John 15:13]. Sentiment cannot be commanded. Sentiments fluctuate like the weather, food preferences and clothing styles—and marriage is not based on sentiment. No where does the Bible say that we are entitled to have marriage partners who are intelligent, attractive, romantic, affectionate and polite. What the Bible does say is “What God has joined together, let not man separate” [Matthew 19:6].

We also confuse love with sexuality. With ever increasing regularity we hear sexual intercourse described as “making love.” When your local movie theater features a “love story,” you’re almost guaranteed that the protagonists will end up in the same bed together—and it’s a pretty safe bet that they will not be married to each other. Somehow we have bought into a belief that if you really love a person of another gender, you will prove that love by performing a sex act.

The Greek word for sexual love is “eros.” That word never appears in the New Testament—the teaching of Jesus. When Jesus commanded love he used the word “agapao,” which is a type of love which can only be known by the actions it prompts. It is a love that does not always run with natural inclinations, a love in which you give yourself to another person unselfishly. You even sacrifice your own interests and desires for the good of the other person.

I believe that kind of love is very difficult—primarily because, deep down, we are all selfish—but also because many of us have never been “trained” to love. We don’t instinctively know how to love. Some of us were ‘shown’ a way to express love by our parents—but most, based on recent best sellers, look elsewhere for training. Books, workshops and seminars can all help. Mentors and counselors can also be effective in love training. But I maintain that the Bible is our primary ‘love-training’ manual—because Jesus Christ modeled ‘true’ love.

H. Richard Niebuhr said it this way: “Love is gratitude: it is thankfulness for the existence of the beloved; it is the happy acceptance of everything that he gives without the jealous feeling that the self ought to be able to do as much; it is a gratitude that does not seek equality; it is wonder over the other’s gift of himself in companionship.”

Just imagine what you would “do” for your children out of the love you have for them. Without sounding “self-righteous,” I would give my life for them. Near the end of Jesus’ personal ministry, He knew it was time to leave this world. According to the Apostle John, “Having loved His own who were in the world, He now showed them the full extent of His love.” He gave His perfect, sinless life for the ‘payment’ required for each and every one of our sins—past, present, and future.

To us it seems strange that the whole world screams for love and yet they look for it everywhere except in the one credible place it can be found—the Word of God. Dr. Malone, the Atlanta psychiatrist, who spoke of people screaming for love, also said, “When they realize that if they give up their screaming and go on to the other business of loving another human, they can get all the love they have been screaming for all their lives.” I wonder if he ever read Matthew 10:39. “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”

True love is so “mysterious,” “untouchable,” and “undefinable,” though many have tried to capture its ‘essence’. I think true love is doing for others without any expectation of receiving back; it is choosing to forgive and to sacrifice; it is patient and kind; it is putting others before yourself; it is not boastful; it is that indescribable feeling of ‘ecstasy’; it is a quiet understanding and an acceptance of imperfection; it is deep compassion; it is the calming security of total trust; is the most important ‘thing’ for us to aspire for.

God is “true love.” He is forgiving, caring, understanding, encouraging, unerring, rewarding, and ceaseless in wanting to have a relationship with us. Even when we ‘run’ from Him, He continually pursues us. He is the great “hunter” and “initiator.” Francis Thompson wrote a poem about his experience in the following verse. The poem is “The Hound of Heaven,” which has been called one of the finest odes in the English language. Thompson said it for all of us:

I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears
I hid from Him, and under running laughter.
Up-vistaed hopes, I sped;
And shot, participated
Down titanic glooms of chasmed fears,
From those strong Feet that followed, followed after.

So, it’s up to you. If you earnestly seek God with all your heart, He will answer you—then you can experience the only “true love” available here on earth. It will change your life!

[Excerpts from: Robert A. Johnson; Norman and Ann Bales]

Blessings….
Mark

LIFE’S DEEP THOUGHTS (v48) for FEBRUARY 2003

If you have a ‘neat’ story or some thoughts about an issue or current event that you would like me to try to respond to, I would be glad to give it a try…so, send them to me at: mbesh@ameritech.net

Thanks to:
Richard Bachman
Gene Besh
Laurie Westman

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THE MEANING OF TRUE LOVE
It is sharing and caring,
Giving and forgiving,
Loving and being loved,
Walking hand in hand,
Talking heart to heart,
Seeing through each other’s eyes,
Laughing together,
Weeping together,
Praying together,
And always trusting,
And believing
And thanking God
For each other…
For love that is shared
is a beautiful thing—
It enriches the soul
and makes the heart sing!
[Helen Steiner Rice]

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Real love is not giving people what they deserve, but giving them what they need
[Adrian Rodgers]

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LOVE

Listen
Overlook
Value others
Express it!

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LOVE’S CHARACTERISTICS
Only when we live in “love” can the other fruits of God’s presence and Spirit follow. The others are manifestations of the spirit of love in our lives. Do you have these kinds of “love” in your life today?

JOY – Love’s strength.
PEACE – Love’s security.
PATIENCE – Love’s endurance.
KINDNESS – Love’s conduct.
GOODNESS – Love’s character.
FAITHFULNESS – Love’s confidence.
GENTLENESS – Love’s humility.
SELF-CONTROL – Love’s victory.
[Rose McKinley]

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FATHER’S LOVE LETTER
This a truly inspiring ‘video’, created by Barry Adams, that presents an intimate love letter from God the Father to each one of us using Biblical passages. The audio track is a moving song titled “Faithful Father,” which was written and performed by Brian Doerksen (lyrics below).

On the surface, this format doesn’t sound too moving or appealing. But this video is brilliant in its simplicity because it allows for a clear communication of the message. It is the content of the letter—the quotes from scripture—which has had so much of an impact on so many people.

When I first viewed this, I literally stopped everything I was doing. I was riveted to the screen and captured by the clear expression of God’s love FOR ME. It is very rare for something to grab my attention like that. Many times it is easy for the artist or the production to dilute the truth of what is being communicated. But that is not the case here. The message is crystal clear from beginning to end.

“The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” [Zephaniah. 3:17]

The God of the universe ‘rejoices’ over me—with singing!! How awesome! As much as I am encouraged in my spiritual journey by music and literature written by godly men and women, there is no substitute for a message directly from Him.

Click the following link to be presented with some options to view this video:
http://www.FathersLoveLetter.com/

FAITHFUL FATHER (Song used in video)
Father, I can’t explain this kind of love
This kind of grace
I know I still break Your heart
And yet You run to welcome me

This is my song of praise to You
For who You are and all that You do
From the moment my life began
You have been faithful

Father, I love the way You hold me close
And say my name
I know when my life is through
My heart will find its home in You

This is my song of praise to You
For who You are and all that You do
From the moment my life began
You have been faithful
You will be faithful
Forever faithful

This is our song of praise to You
For who You are and all that You do
From before the world began
You have been faithful
You will be faithful
Forever faithful.
[Brian Doerksen]

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How rare is it in life when expectations are not only met they are exceeded? It can be a magical moment when this occurs.  [Gene Besh]

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QUOTES ON LOVE

Love’s a thing that’s never out of season.
[Barry Cornwall]

Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind;
And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.
[William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream]

We are all born for love. It is the principle of existence, and its only end.
[Benjamin Disraeli, Sibyl]

I feel it when I when I sorrow most:
It is better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.
[Alfred, Lord Tennyson, In Memoriam]

Love sought is good, but given unsought is better
[William Shakespeare Twelfth Night]

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LOVE ACCORDING TO KIDS
People, for many ages, have searched for the meaning of love. But even the great philosophers, with their profound definitions, could not fully touch its true essence. In a survey of 4-8 year olds, kids share their views on love. But what do little kids know about love? Read on and realize their young and innocent minds, kids already have a simple but deep grasp of the word love.

– Love is that first feeling you feel before all the bad stuff gets in the way. When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn’t bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That’s love.

– If life is ‘A,’ love is the whole alphabet.

– Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries without making them give you any of theirs.

– If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who hates you.

– Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day.

– God could have said magic words to make the nails fall off the cross, but He didn’t. That’s love.
[Received from Richard Bachman]

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SHOW YOU LOVE
Please forgive me
if I come on so strong
I get a little anxious
when I talk about God’s love
Hold me back now
stop me if I start to preach
‘Cause I don’t want to be the one to push you out of reach

The way to give love
Is how you live love
This is what I’m due
You can’t fight it
You can’t deny it
Love will get to you

Don’t wanna get up in your face
Don’t wanna put the pressure on
Don’t wanna make you run away
Just want to show you love

Don’t wanna beg you to believe
Don’t wanna take you for a ride
Don’t wanna sell you anything
Just want to show you love

I won’t convince you
with anything I say
But maybe you will see His love
and how it is portrayed
An act of kindness
a loving sacrifice
Simple little things that have the power to change your life

There’s no surprises
And no disguises
Just the blessed truth
No obligations
No complications
Just a gift for you

Love’s gonna get you!
[Jaci Velasquez]

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SOMETHING THAT WE DO
I remember well the day we wed
I can see that picture in my head
I still believe the words we said
Forever will ring true
Love is certain, love is kind
Love is yours and love is mine
But it isn’t something that we find
It’s something that we do

It’s holding tight, lettin’ go
It’s flying high and laying low
Let your strongest feelings show
And your weakness, too
It’s a little and a lot to ask
An endless and a welcome task
Love isn’t something that we have
It’s something that we do

We help to make each other all that we can be
Though we can find our strength and inspiration independently
The way we work together is what sets our love apart
So closely that you can’t tell where I end and where you start
It gives me heart remembering how
We started with a simple vow
There’s so much to look back on now
Still it feels brand-new
We’re on a road that has no end
And each day we begin again
Love’s not just something that we’re in
It’s something that we do

We help to make each other all that we can be
Though we can find our strength and inspiration independently
The way we work together is what sets our love apart
So closely that you can’t tell where I end and where you start
Love is wide, love is long
Love is deep and love is strong
Love is why I love this song
And I hope you love it too
I remember well the day we wed
I can see that picture in my head
Love isn’t just those words we said
It’s something that we do

There’s no request too big or small
We give ourselves, we give our all
Love isn’t someplace that we fall
It’s something that we do
[Clint Black/Skip Ewing]

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THERESA PRAYER
May today there be peace within.

May you trust your highest power that you are exactly where you are meant to be.

May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.

May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.

May you be content knowing you are a child of God.

Let this presence settle into our bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of you.  [Received from Laurie Westman]

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DEEP THOUGHT:
Others are merely mirrors of you. You cannot love or hate something about another person unless it reflects to you something you love or hate about yourself. [Anon.]

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Hope you enjoyed some of these insights—share them with your friends and colleagues—so we can have a larger ‘pool’ to receive from, and more to share with!

Also, remember to include your name as the “source,” if some of this wisdom is of your doing—I would like to give credit where credit is due!

Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”  [John 21:16]

Mark

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Disclaimer: All the above jokes & inspirations are obtained from various sources and copyright are used when known. Other than our name and headers, we do not own the copyright to any of the materials sent to this list. We just want to spread the ministry of God’s love and cheerfulness throughout the world.

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