Text: 1 Corinthians 13
Icebreaker: What is the thing you love most?
(Questions for reflection – just read – no need for answer): Do you love your family? Do you love your church? Do you love your friends?
Story (From Rabbi Abraham Twerski): “To a young man. Why are you eating that fish?’ The young man said, ‘Because I love fish.’ He says, ‘Oh. You love the fish. That’s why you took it out of the water and killed it and boiled it?’ He says, ‘Don’t tell me you love the fish. You love yourself, because the fish tastes good to you; therefore, you took it out of the water and killed it and boiled it.’
We could call this kind of love, ‘fish love’; it is selfish and self-centred. So much of what is called love nowadays is in fact ‘fish love’. We can see it in many situations like when couples fall in love, or when people speak about their church or look for a church to join. We can see it when people make friends; in fact we see it in many areas of life! What they mean when they say that they have fallen in love is that they have found something (or someone) which can fulfil their needs and which will make them feel good! Unfortunately the other person, church, job and so on, becomes merely a vehicle, a way of having ‘my’ joy and ‘my’ needs gratified. In other words “It’s not love for the other.”
“Too much of what is called love is ‘fish love’. An external love is not on what I’m going to get, but I’m going to give. The rabbi Abraham Twerski quotes rabbi Dessler: ‘People make a serious mistake in thinking that you give to those whom you love, and the real answer is you love those to whom you give.’ True love is a love of giving, not a love of receiving.’
Here are a few concepts about love that must reshape the way we understand it and receive it so that we can truly love people, our churches, families and jobs:
1) Love is intentional
Love is not a mere feeling - a feeling cannot come and change who I am forever! That feeling could be passion or something else. But true love is when I consciously decide to care and to give in an intentional way. Love is a decision and a choice that we have to keep making, even when that costs us.
· The man that took someone else’s place on the execution line (in the Nazi camp).
· John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave His only Son…..”
· Missionaries that gave their lives to share the gospel (and even sold themselves as slaves in order to reach people).
2) Love is not selfish
I like the story that Rabbi Twerski told - ‘Do You love fish?’. We could ask similar questions - Do you love your spouse? Do you love your church? Do you love the people around you? Really what we are asking is are you willing to give, or just seeking to feel good and have your needs fulfilled?
Love that is not selfish says “I do not desire for others, less than what I desire for myself”.
· Jesus came to die for us
· Because we expect things from others, sometimes we don’t believe that Jesus loves us without a hidden agenda.
· Just as we are told not to keep an account of the wrongs that are done to us, so we shouldn’t keep an account of the good that we do for others. Do things because you love, and not because of pride or so that you can say how much or for how long you have loved.
3) Love is self-giving
A serious mistake that people make is to think that we give to those we love, when the truth is that we love those to whom we give.
True love is giving and not receiving!
When we love we cannot stand still, we have to do something! We build our families, relationships and churches to glorify God and to bless the world around us and beyond us.
We have a phrase in Brazil that says:
“What the eyes haven’t seen the heart will not feel” I would like to say that this phrase is wrong, the more accurate phrase would be “What the heart doesn’t feel the eyes may never see”!
Love is care in action! It is to give ourselves, no matter the cost. It is not just to give what we don’t need, but to give what will cost us something.
In II Samuel we see this principle in action when king David insists on buying the land to build an altar, instead of being given it for free: “But the king replied to Araunah "No! I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.” II Samuel 24.24
Conclusion: How amazing would our relationships, jobs, friendships, churches and society be if we truly love them?
Are you willing to Love God beyond anything and everything and your neighbour as yourself?