Lost That Loving Feeling? -- Matthew 22:37-40
37 And He (Jesus) said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the great and foremost commandment. 39 The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’40 On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”[i]
In December 1964, the Righteous Brothers released their new single entitled, “You’ve Lost that Loving Feeling.” Often pop culture defines the meaning of words. This is certainly true when it comes to understanding love. Generally, love is narrowed to refer to a good feeling related to sexual desire or a natural closeness towards one’s immediate family and friends. It tends to be a rather fickle or indecisive word that comes and goes, that is, being dependent on one’s feelings. For example, being hurt by someone is a good reason to avoid or dump that person and then move on to someone else who makes you feel good. Basically, love has become a selfish outcome, which diminishes its meaning and value over time. Distorted love can become nothing more than lust, the seeking of pleasure for pleasure itself. Love, then, is hardly something to be sought, something a person can depend upon. Sadly, this understanding of love creeps into the minds of Christians and diminishes the depth of relationships and the ability for Christians to unite, grow as a community of believers, and reach out beyond their most immediate loved ones and friends. The meaning of love has been lost, but thankfully, the real meaning of love is simple to understand and, therefore, is easily restored.
Love is not an emotion, though its activities evoke any number of wonderful emotions: happiness, joy, peace, contentment, and confidence, to name a few. It can also evoke great sorrow and tears when loss interferes with one’s daily life. True love does that which is right; it is an act of obedience to God that reaches out to every person who crosses your path (Luke10:25-37 with emphasis on verses 29-37). I love God in order to love others; without God, love is gradually lost and is replaced with intense selfishness, lust, and every type of sexual perversion.[ii] The ultimate consequence of this loss of true love is “loveless hate”[iii] toward anyone who, or group that questions where a person finds his or her love. Selfishness always leads to “loveless hate,” and is, therefore, incredibly controlling and prone to wicked schemes disguised as solutions, as we are seeing much too often in the West.
As stated in the previous paragraph, true love is doing that which is right; it is an action that has its source in God Almighty and, therefore, benefits others. God is THE SOURCE of love; love is NOT a natural human quality, yet it is the foundation upon which justice and righteousness are built and sustained. Loving God and one’s neighbor are essential if people want to experience security, freedom, community, lasting happiness, peace, patience, goodness, and true happiness. Put clearly, love is firstly 1) knowing the God of Scripture, 2) worshipping Him and Him alone, 3) keeping God in the forefront of all that you do and say, and 4) consistent worship of God. Secondly, love is 5) honoring moms and dads who love God and instruct you in His ways, 6) valuing the life of every human being who has been created in the image of God, 7) remaining faithful to one’s spouse, 8) respecting everyone’s property; never steal, 9) being truthful with everyone; never lie, and 10) accept what you possess rather than wish you could have the property or belongings of others; never covet. Love looks out for others by being connected to God. Without love for God, human beings will not look out for their neighbors: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:5). With this devotional love for God (1-4), one can then do what is right for his or her neighbors (5-10). Note that these ten comments are reflections of the Ten Commandments, the foundation of true love. Therefore, love only exists in the bosom of God; love cannot exist apart from God; God and love are inseparable. Know God well and you will love others well.
Love is doing what God would do; saying what God would say; being what God is! Love is grounded in divine knowledge and passed on through obedience. I love God so that I can do what is right for you despite my feelings. The Ten Commandments encapsulate the behaviors that make love possible in the world. Commit yourself to know and love God well and you will certainly gain the insights necessary for loving, that is, doing the right thing for your neighbors, in other words, everyone who crosses your path, emotions aside.
[i] See also Mark 12:29-31; Luke 10:25-37; John 13:34; John 15:12; 1 John 2:7-11; 4:11-21. All these verses reflect the same idea we have discussed in this devotional. Your love and faith will be strengthened. [ii] Sexual perversion is any sexual relationship that operates outside the bounds of marriage (the lifetime union between a man and a woman). [iii] The term “loveless hate” is probably new to most readers; however, it is a valuable term. There is justifiable hate in the Bible; it is different from secular hate in that it is always controlled by Judeo-Christian love.