Sherrel and I noticed that we were abusing the word “love” by attaching it to shoes, food, books, movies, and many other things in everyday life. So we established a rule in our house: The word “love” is reserved for people and for God. We “enjoy” everything else.
It is God who gives us richly all things to enjoy (see 1 Timothy 6:17). I want to challenge you to enjoy things, but to love only God and people. The “us” in this passage is not limited to the rich; God has given all of us things to enjoy. But He has given us people and Himself to love.
Love might be the best example we have of saying one thing and meaning another. Killers “love” their victims. Abusive husbands “love” their wives. Cheating wives “love” their husbands.
Has someone ever said to you, “God told me…” and then followed up with an utterly ridiculous remark? But how are you supposed to respond? How do you argue with what God supposedly said? It's a tactic that just shuts down the conversation, and gives the statement—no matter how preposterous—a bullet‐proof defense.
People pull this same kind of stuff with the word “love.” When I say I love someone, I am declaring that whatever follows is for his or her own good. If I tell you I love you, I am saying that whatever follows my “I love you” is good, pure, right, and in your own best interest.
But that is not always the case. Love can be used to justify what is not in another's best interest. Love then becomes almost a reverse court case: First I decide in my favor by declaring myself innocent, and then I go and do whatever I want.
God had a real sense of humor when He put me together. I've been the sensitive musician/artist type who as a boy ran crying to Mom after killing a bird with my new BB gun. But at the same time I've been the analytical and tough‐minded business man who pursued an objective with no thought for the “feelings” of others. I've played both sides with my emotions and have come to the following conclusion: I would not want to live without my emotions, but I will not be guided by them.
Emotions are a great deceiver. No decision should ever be based on emotions. Emotions should never guide any thought or action. Emotions have no nutritional value. They are like dessert—to be enjoyed, but not to be relied on. They make life rich, but they'll eventually kill you if that's all you eat.
I remember the first time I began to notice the poor. That was the time I didn't look because I was obliged to; I looked because I wanted to see—God wanted me to see. It was as if something dead on the inside was coming back to life. It felt good—really good; but it also hurt at the same time. And as I began to take action, I was overwhelmed by emotion. To just shake the hand of the poor, or extend a hug flooded me with intense feelings—feelings of joy with a little pain mixed in—which I mistook for love.
I'm going to make a bold statement: Without God, you cannot love another person with God's kind of love. It is impossible. You can love another person with your own kind of love and feel good about it (and they will probably feel good about it also), but without God, it's not real love.
Oh… I can feel the love right now! But it's true… as human beings we do not know real love, unless it is the love of God passing through us.
We love him, because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19)
God's love is always just passing through. He loves me and I am affected in some way that comes “out.” The stuff that stays “in” is just emotion that only benefits me.
The emotions we experience as we extend a hand to the poor, as we comfort a friend, as we encourage a total stranger are not love, and should not be mistaken for love.
When I extend a hand to a poor man, he benefits from my hand—not from any satisfaction I may be experiencing. When I comfort a friend, she is comforted by the love of God—not by my emotions. When I encourage a stranger, the hope he receives is from the Lord—not from my feelings.
The History Channel is doing a mini‐series called “The Bible” in March. CeeLo Green has a YouTube video with footage from the series set to the song “Mary Did You Know.” Every time I watch this video I lose it. I'm barely keeping it together as I even write about it.
Please take a break and visit this YouTube video.
Did you experience what I experienced? What a wonderful feeling! I don't want that feeling to stop. I want to bawl my eyes out in the presence of my Jesus forever.
But all this wonderful emotion is not the love of God. It is not His love passing through. This is my response to Him. These wonderful feelings are attached to my worship—my praise for Him, my thanks to Him. But this is not His love.
Oh… He delights in my tears of thanksgiving. He delights in my worship. He delights in my praise. But the emotion swirling in and around and through my feeble attempt at what feels like loving Him isn't His perfect love flowing through me.
Am I straining over details? No. All these wonderful feelings are for me—for my encouragement. But my feelings don't change anything. His love is not about feelings. Feelings are associated with His love, but they are not His love.
His love is a force. Love parted the Red Sea so the children of Israel could escape their enemies. Love dropped manna out of the sky so the children of Israel could have something to eat. Love died for my sins so I don't have to.
Have a good day,