It seems somewhat of a paradox that love is something that is most sought after and yet when we receive it, we can too often stop nourishing it so it will remain alive and vibrant. Scripture admonishes us to consider always its place, value, and quality in our lives.
Peter addresses it this way:
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”
1 Peter 4:8 (NIV)
John addresses this often. Here is only one verse:
“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”
John 15:12 (NIV)
The word love appears many times. How many times? It depends on which translation of the Bible you are using. Here are just a few of commonly used translations and the number of times the word love appears:
- King James Version – 131 in the Old Testament, 179 in the New Testament
- New American Standard Version – 133 in the Old Testament, 215 in the New Testament (New Revised Standard – 317 in the Old Testament, 221 in the New Testament)
- New International Version – 319 in the Old Testament, 232 in the New Testament
Since God is love it is evident that it ought to be our priority as well if we are committed to Him. And He isn’t interested in a casual laid-back version of love, he wants it to be sizzling or not be there at all. We see that in Revelation when the Holy Spirit directs John as he writes to the church at Laodicea:
15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.
Revelation 3:15-16 (NIV)
The passion of God’s love for us is something He not only desires in response; but that He also commands we extend to one another. I cannot read about this without being provoked about how often I fall short with evidence of the passion I have for Him as well as others.
Reading through the Song of Solomon we cannot mistake God’s passion nor miss that it is expressed in detail with creativity.
What does that look like in my life? In yours?
I could list many examples of what it may or may not look like, but what is key for any one of us is what we do with what we know is true. After we have made the decision to love, we can become lazy about continuing to cultivate it.
How often does our dissatisfaction with relationships have something to do with our failure to nurture relationships beyond what we hope to receive and continue to receive?
One of the relationships that often falters is that between a husband and wife. The dailyness of life that can often demand so much from us can result in us slogging along with routine expressions of the love that once was all we could think about. We say the same things, do the same things, and go to the same places. Despite enjoying some of these favorites, perhaps we risk lukewarm love without thinking.
My husband and I are blessed to have a marriage that has lasted for 54 years as of this writing. We have weathered many kinds of seasons and had more than a few tests along the way, but our commitment to one another has stood throughout these years.
As I was reading about the subject of love this post focuses on, we were nearing Christmas and I was looking for a creative gift idea for my husband. I have surprised him more than a few times over the years, but that has reduced the number of items related to interests or hobbies that he doesn’t have or need. (If you know my sweet husband you know he is always happy to get a new flannel shirt, but how many flannel shirts does one man need?)
After a bit more thinking and praying, I came up with a bit different gift to put under the tree for him. I gave him a year of dates! Inside the gift box I placed a letter telling him that on the first day of every month he would find a note with a date for that month. Within the note would be the money, gift card, or information related to the date as well as whether it was one that could be used at any time during the month or it can a specific date. One rule was that it needed to be spent before the month ended.
Each date was designed to invite him to someplace new he had not been even if I had there or to make time to do something special that he enjoyed that we may not do as often.
The first date began with December 2018 and needed to be spent before December 31. That date was to a new Italian coffee shop and bakery I had enjoyed with friends, but he had never savored.
As of now our dates have included walks with breakfast at a newly opened specialty place, lunch at a fun place we have never enjoyed together, target shooting together with coffee afterward at another new place, and tickets to Phantom of the Opera on stage. (We had enjoyed seeing Phantom several times over the years, but not for a very long time.)
(I can’t really share the other dates that are planned or the surprise would be lost as he reads this, but I hope that this gift of nurturing our relationship will be fun for him each month.)
But what do we do with love in our other relationships? How attentive are we?
What about our relationship with the Lord?
Is your journal only filled with prayer requests and scripture?
What about writing a love letter to the Lord in that journal (Keep in mind His passion for you❤️)?
I love the words John uses in 1 John 3:18 as expressed in The Passion Translation:
“Beloved children, our love can’t be an abstract theory we only talk about, but a way of life demonstrated through our loving deeds.”