“Your actions speak so loud; I can’t hear what you say.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Have you ever been in a relationship where this quote fits the situation perfectly? I hope you haven’t, but unfortunately, most of us have probably experienced this on some level with someone we thought loved us.
We often long for someone to love us better than they can. That doesn’t excuse abusive behavior, so for the sake of this message, let’s put that aside for the moment, even though this quote takes me back to that place.
“We love because He first loved us” (I John 4:19, ESV). To understand love in its true sense, we must turn to Jesus’ actions on the cross. This is the ultimate form of love shown to us when we least deserve it. This is quite the opposite of the quote above. Love is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22, ESV). Love is a gift from God proven supremely on the cross (Rom. 5:8, ESV). Love is a choice. How well we love depends mainly on our relationship with Christ, who models love for us.
We are broken and messed up in the love department. God redeems us and makes our hearts capable of loving and being loved. There is hope in the healing. “Perfect love casts out fear” (I John 4:18, ESV). Our trust and obedience to God come through love; we can love each other better when we get our priorities right.
Paul says that without love, we are just a noisy gong (I Cor. 13:1, ESV). The Emerson quote may be related to this verse. We can’t expect the kind of love the depths of our souls long for to come from anyone except God. God is the only one capable of filling that size crevice in our lives. But once Christ is our first love, we have hope of experiencing the mutual love of Christ within our relationships, the way God designed and commanded. Love is a gift to be received and a command to be given (Mark 12:28-31; Deut. 6:5; Lev. 19:18.34, ESV). Jesus takes it further and says we are to love our enemies (Matt. 5:44, ESV).
But this kind of love is only possible with Christ at the center of our hearts. That is the closest we come to experiencing that kind of love on this Earth, to experience the type of love Jesus showed us at the cross. It is like a rare gem and the exquisite perfume found in the alabaster box, a symbol of Jesus’ body that was broken and the blood poured out for us. The woman was ridiculed for anointing Jesus with it (Matt. 26:7, ESV). To assume a servant’s position is ultimate love, and Jesus was our best teacher.
The Bible supplies a filter for love in I Cor. 13:4-8. I recommend reading it often. Just as our gifts are meant to be used on Earth, love is meant to be shared while we await Jesus’ return. Vertically, towards God in complete abandonment. Horizontally, towards others to help each other grow in grace. May we shine brightly into the lives of others who need a glimmer of hope; it may be the only reflection of Jesus they see today. There is hope for everyone.
“Anyone who does not have love does not know God, because God is love” (I John 4:8, ESV).