As last week promised, I’m continuing with my series on words (or phrases, I suppose) that have lost their meaning. Like last week, I point to a word whose overuse has been the cause of its lost meaning. The word we love to use to the point of abuse is, in fact, love.
We love everything. We love our families, we love our friends. We love our pets and we love our favorite item of clothing or accessory. We apply the tag love to any and everything today. What does it all mean, though? We use the same word for each item, but does it mean the same thing for all? I think the better question is does it mean anything anymore?
I love lamp.
This phrase seems so ridiculous in Anchorman, however is it all that ridiculous today? I mean, with everything we claim to love, is a lamp out of the question? I’m afraid for our love, friends. I’m afraid that it has been severely bloated to the point of a mere whim of our affections. Our love seems to indicate nothing more than a positive feeling toward something, alive or inanimate.
The Greeks had three words for love and one to express affection. We have one for each. While our language is not as robust in this aspect as the Greek, let us not be constrained by this fact. Let’s take a look at the things we claim to love and measure them against the true definition of love.
“In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” — 1 John 4:9–11
So, that album I love, I may not exactly be able to say I’m going to lay down my life for it. Yeah, and the same goes for my car, I guess. Oh, and this computer, definitely not. I admit, I belong to the problem I’m highlighting here, friends.
I’ve taken a gift straight from God, the ability to love, and perverted it by directing it at things which are not worthy of such an affection (1 John 4:7). Love is too great a capacity to waste on temporal preoccupations like my wealth, happiness or social standing. Yet, I do this regularly. Love can only overwhelm these diversions until it is ready for something else worthy of it. This is why oftentimes, I become consumed in these things because this love has overtaken the lesser thing at which I have directed it and so instead of redirecting it to something greater, I simply consume myself in this thing.
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” — 1 Corinthians 13:4–7
This is not a love that can be satisfied by things, but by God and relationships with people. There is nothing else that is worthy of a love such as this; don’t deceive yourself. Your love is valuable. Our ability to love, even, is a gift, so don’t go throwing it away on meaningless objects. Just like your life, make the most of your love. Also, as you would with your life, don’t hoard your love saving it up for the perfect day, scenario, etc. but use it in a way that is worthy of the Giver.
Our love has been spread so far that we can no longer love the things, particularly God and others, the way we ought. Instead, we are forced to give them the scraps that have not already been allocated, if you will. This isn’t right. It’s not the way our relationship with God was meant to be, nor our relationships with our loved ones. Instead of displaying His love, we serve only to make a mockery of it (1 John 4:12).
Love is a powerful thing. However, we first have to understand the gift that is already in our possession before we can begin to unlock the power it wields. Seek to understand love and then it will produce fruit in your life that will be beyond your imagination, because that is just the nature of God and His gifts.
What kind of world would this be if we saturated it with pure love? That begins, however, with you in the world around you. Therefore, love selectively, but love completely.