Why Must We Love?
What does it mean to love, and what does it mean to be loved?
Love has been expounded on by millions of people all over the world. Exhorted, studied, read, explained, researched, and translated. But what does it mean to me? What does it mean to love, and what does it mean to be loved? David Viscott (1938-1996) once said, “To love and be loved is to feel the sun from both sides.”
One definition of how to love from the secular world is:
Cultivate love in your life by being loving and showing affection to others. Smile at other people and make friendly conversation with strangers. Do nice things for your friends and family, like giving them rides to work or listening when they need someone to talk to.1
Well, that’s easy, I said. I do that all the time.
Love one another? (John 15:12) Check. The “golden rule? (Luke 6:31) Check. Owe no man but to love one another? (Rom 13:8) Check. I could go on. It’s second nature to me, I said. Done and dusted, my hands, brain, and hard work. God will surely be pleased with me.
When I read 1 Corinthians 13:4-5, it said, “Love is patient.” Patience is the ability to endure difficult people and situations without giving up anger or hope. Because God continues to demonstrate patience when we do disappointing things, we can show others patience when they disappoint us. Love, then, is about the ability to wait, continue doing something despite difficulties, or suffer without complaining or becoming annoyed.
Patience became a sounding alarm as I read through the Scriptures.
Christ is patient with us. God was patient with our forefathers. I am, by occupation, a nurse. Nursing demands patience. When the infirm takes a lot of my time, I need to be longsuffering, knowing that my behavior toward them is critical to their rehabilitation.
Similarly, in the ecclesia, I must show patience when my sister cries and seeks solace or when a brother asks that I be more patient with his faults. Or when a grandmother has no one to turn to. Or a widower who needs someone to spend time with during empty days. There are so many examples of those who need our love.
As I looked further at 1 Corinthians 13, I was drawn to the second line with trepidation. Paul wrote that love does not envy, boast, or act proudly. I am not living at this standard. I am guilty of all three. Guilty for all these years.
God has blessed me. God forgives and blesses the righteous. I have been the director of nursing for four hospitals. Everyone respects me because I am kind, good and caring. I realized that everything I have done was for the glory of myself, not God’s glory.
My eyes then went to verse 2, where it states that if I have no love, I am nothing.
Months of reflection and running away would not prepare me for that verse. Love now is not only the love we have for everyone around us. Love is also for our enemies. Love is to offer the other cheek. Love is to understand. God is love. Love is the “bond of perfectness.” (Col 3:14).
What does it take for me to love? To love my family? Of course, that is easy. To love my friends and relatives? Sometimes. To love my colleagues and boss or my brethren? Well, if they love me! To love Christ? I asked the LORD to show me the way. Psalm 143:8 was helpful:
I learned I was counting on others to love me before I would love them. I had this assurance from my family, relatives, and close friends, who have consistently supported me. Had God loved me first? Clearly, God did love us first. The Apostle John wrote: “We love him, because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19).
If God loves us first, I should also practice this with others. I will now learn to listen to others intently, even when it is difficult to bear. I will now be more helpful to my brethren, even if it is sometimes out of my way. God has put these people in my life. I am expected to serve them and learn how to love.
My expectations of others loving me first should change to loving others first because God loved me first. From now on, my actions will be more thoughtful, purposeful, listening, less boasting, less self-seeking, showing less anger, and not keeping mental records of their sins because God loved me first and has always been there for me.
How, then, can we begin to comprehend the love of God? The Apostle John shows us how.
Kuala Lumpur Ecclesia, Malaysia
- Excerpt from “How to be Loved”, Barile, Nicole, Ph.D., NTP, and Madeleine Criglow, December 3, 2023, www.wikihow.com/be-loved.