Monday, May 16, 2011

Cheap Love vs Rich Love

Love does a lot of things to us and prompts us into some of the oddest actions. Young men will spend hundreds of dollars trying to convince their love interest of their sincere affection. They will buy flowers, go to the movies, pay for expensive meals, give gifts of jewellery, and any number of things. Yet the most powerful things that are produced by our love are free. Women should measure a man's heart by the amount of forgiveness he is willing to give out. The deeper his heart the more forgiving he should be in action and attitude. In fact, the greatest tool in our arsenal of love is forgiveness.

I love my wife. She is the most beautiful, incredible woman I have had the pleasure of knowing. My wife loves me. She calls me her "superman" because that is how she sees me. We will have a long life together because our love produces the one thing that is essential for a marriage to last: forgiveness. The truth is I am no superman and I do some pretty annoying things. I don't want to be annoying but there are moments that I just don't think. We have arguments, disagreements, difference of opinion, individual perspectives and all these can lead to conflict. We are two people learning to function as one so we need some lubrication to prevent wearing each other down. This lubrication is in the form of forgiveness produced by our growing love for each other.

It is an easy thing to forgive, we just make it hard. We complicate it by making things more important than they are or by putting our need to be right ahead of everything else, or by making our pain more important than the person we love. Well, if you are a follower of Jesus Christ there are a few things you need to know.

First, Jesus told us that a fruit born of our love for him is obedience:

If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. (John 15:10)

It is an easy matter to know if you have a religious spirit or an actual proper relationship with Jesus Christ. If you really love him then you will not come up with excuses for not obeying. Instead, you will gladly do whatever you have to do to obey his commands. This will be the desire of your heart and you will study and learn his commands and instructions so that you know what to obey.

That leads us to the second point:

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. (John 15:12)

That's setting the standard pretty high for this thing we so easily refer to as love. You know there is cheap love and then there is the rich love that Jesus has shown us. Cheap love comes and goes in an instant. Cheap love allows you to love objects such as cars, clothing, and a movie. Cheap love in a relationship will fade with time, perhaps days, so that you are "falling in love" once a month. Cheap love can result in a lot of broken and tattered hearts. Rich love is much different and can be summed up in a simple sentence:

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)

We lay down our life in love when we consider the needs of the person we love greater than our own. This is found in good parents, in a good spouse, in healthy friendships. It is what is produced by rich love and is impossible for the cheap stuff:

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 2:3-5)

The third point then is this: real love is the only thing that allows the Holy Spirit to produce fruit that lasts and one of the greatest of these is forgiveness. It takes the attitude of "laying down your life" to allow forgiveness to be an ever flowing river from your heart. Such an attitude does not allow hurt, pain, sin, mistakes, errors, slights, insults or anything else to take root and cause bitterness. Forgiveness keeps the heart young, fresh and vibrant and it brings the distinct flavour of richness to every relationship. It is yet another reality of the Kingdom of God:

For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. (Matthew 6:14-15) 

Some of us use worship to measure our love for Jesus. We think the louder we sing, the more emotional we become, the closer we are to him. This can be cheap love. If you want a true measuring rod look to your actions and see if they are born out of obedience to the Lord you profess to love. Look to your heart and see if there is any root of bitterness, anger, hatred or indifference that have been allowed to grow due to your lack of forgiveness. Don't settle for cheap love, cheap grace, cheap forgiveness. Let it be rich, deep, and sincere so that you will be blessed in every relationship, including your relationship with Jesus. Allow the fruit to be produced in you by having a sincere love for Jesus and for others. Forgive.

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