Monday, August 30, 2010

Stay Focused on God's Love

A simple definition of true love is: to protect and to provide for another person. If you are learning how to protect and to provide for anyone, it should be the one to whom you are most deeply attracted. Like many others, the relationship may have begun by focusing on infatuation, romantic attachment or even sex. You may have recognized large doses of “I love you if …” or “I love you because …” in the way you treat one another. Conditional love rarely protects or provides for another.

If you want the relationship to grow and succeed in God’s terms, focus on applying God’s definition of love: “I love you, period!” This unconditional love seeks to protect and provide for the other person. Consciously make your friend’s happiness, health, and spiritual growth as important to you as your own. If you are in a romantic relationship, you will know it is true love when your heart’s desire is to protect and provide for the object of your affection.

The difficult events in life can be sobering and can challenge people to reevaluate their relationship. Seek out your spiritual mentors and ask them to help guide you in trying times.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

To Protect and Provide

Here is one of the simplest definitions for true love you will ever find: to protect and to provide for another person. It reflects God’s picture of love in the Bible. And the supreme example is Jesus Christ’s love for the church. He is alive today, protecting and providing for us.

What does true love look like in a dating relationship? You will speak and act in ways that protect and provide for your boyfriend or girlfriend. For example, you will drive carefully instead of recklessly, because you want to protect your date from an accident. You will provide activities that will be personally enriching and enjoyable for your date, instead of those of questionable value. And you will not pressure your date to meet your sexual desires, but instead protect him or her from the pain of moral compromise.

As you can see, true love from God’s perspective is much more than an attraction to or warm feelings about someone special. True love is a decision, an action, a response to care for others as you do yourself. Protecting and providing for others is an act of the will regardless of our feelings. This is how we are to love everyone: family members, friends, classmates, neighbors, even strangers. We should be constantly seeking the happiness, health, and spiritual growth of others, beginning with those closest to us – family members and close friends – and working out to people we don’t even know, such as people around the world who benefit from our charitable giving.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Nourish and Cherish

True, unconditional love is evident when the happiness, health, and spiritual growth of
another person are as important to you as your own. Paul wrote to the Ephesians, “No one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church” (Ephesians 5:29 NASB). It is not selfish or self-centered to nourish and cherish our own bodies; it is a natural, healthy love of self. True love means to nourish and cherish another just as we naturally do for ourselves.

To nourish means to nurture toward growth and maturity. For example, to nurture a plant or flower in your garden, you provide all the sun, water, and plant food it needs to grow tall and become fruitful. In a similar way, nurturing that special someone in your life means to provide for his or her growth and maturity by meeting needs, just as you make sure your own needs are met.

To cherish means to protect from harm. Picture a mother bird spreading her wings over her babies to shield them from bad weather or danger. Cherishing your special friend means protecting him or her from all harm, just as you take precautions to protect yourself from dangers of any kind.

Monday, August 23, 2010

God's Definition of True Love

The challenge to love God's way seems simple enough: if he is attracted to her and she is attracted to him, why not focus your attention on exercising God’s definition of love in your relationship?

What is God’s definition of love? “I love you, period” is the only real love, the only
true love, the only biblical love. It is the kind of love God displays toward us: unconditional, no if, no because. The Bible declares: “God so loved the world that he gave His one and only son” (John 3:16). “This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:10). “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). This is the God who loves us unconditionally, in spite of our sin, in spite of our weakness.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

I Love You, Period

The third kind of love is: “I love you, period” and it does not have conditions. This kind of love says, “I love you despite what you may be like deep down inside. I love you no matter what might change about you. You can’t do anything to turn off my love. I love you, period!”

I love you, period” is not blind. It can and should know a great deal about the other
person’s failures, shortcomings, and faults. Yet it totally accepts him or her without demanding anything in return. There is no way you can earn this type of love, nor can you lose it. It has no strings attached.

I love you, period” is different from “I Love you if ...” in that it does not require certain conditions to be met before it is given. It is also different from “I love you because ...” in that it is not generated by attractive or desirable qualities in the other person. Lust, romance, infatuation, sex, “if love”, and “because love” are predominantly about getting something from another person. Couples in their first couple of months together almost always closer to the “getting side” in their relationship. If what they identify as love is to grow into true love, each of them needs to make a transition to the giving side.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

“I Love You Because …” Doesn't Last

What happens to love when a female meets someone who is sweeter and kinder than her current boyfriend? How will she treat him if he stops being impressive or if he cannot afford to take her on romantic dates? If her love is based on what he does, it may not survive if there are any negative changes in his role or performance.

I love you because ...” is not true love. You may find yourself attracted to someone
because of his or her personality, position, intelligence, skill, or ability. But if your
love is not founded on more than what that person appears to be, has, or does, it
will not last.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

I Love You Because ...

The second kind of love that people express is “I love you because…”. “I love you because …” is a close cousin to “I love you if ...”. One person loves another because of something he or she is, has, or does. Someone may say, “I love you because … you are so beautiful” or “I love you because … you take good care of me” or “I love you because … you make me laugh.” Sadly, some may even think “I love you because … you are the only one showing interest in me right now.” Females often experience because love when they are strongly attracted to a male because he is so sweet, kind, romantic or spends a lot of money on her.

I love you because ...” sounds pretty good. Almost everyone appreciates being loved for who they are or what they do. It is certainly preferable to “I love you if ...”, which must be constantly earned and requires a lot of effort. Being loved because we are good looking, witty, kind, wealthy, popular, and so on seems less demanding and conditional than trying to bargain for love.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Strings Attached

I love you if ...” always has strings attached. As long as certain conditions prevail, the relationship is fine. But when expectations are not met, love is withdrawn. Many marriages break up because they were built on if love. When one or both partners fail to perform up to the desired standard, “love” turns to disappointment and resentment.

A male's “love” for a female for several months in the beginning of a relationship may be largely based on if love. As long as she makes him feel good, as long as she dresses to please him, as long as she allows him to enjoy her closeness, he is interested in her. But what would happen to his “love” if she said, “No more kissing, no more hand holding, and certainly no more intense cuddling in the car”? Would he still want to be with her and spend his hard-earned money to show her a good time?

I love you If …” is not true love. If you are in a relationship and sense pressure to perform in a certain way to gain the love you desire, the relationship is not governed by true love. Although it may feel wonderful, it is not true love that lasts a life time.

Monday, August 9, 2010

I Love You If ...

There are basically three ways of behaving in relationships that people routinely label as “love”: 1) I love you if …, 2) I love because …, and 3) I love you, period.

The first one is: “I love you if…”. Qualified love, if love, is conditional love. It is given or received only when certain conditions are met. The only way to get this kind of love is to earn it by performing in an approved way. Some parents love their children if they behave well, if they get good grades, or if they act or dress a certain way. Among married or dating couples, love may be withheld if one partner fails to do or be what the other expects. “I love you If ...” is basically selfish--it is a bargaining chip offered in exchange for something desired.

Many young women have only experienced the kind of love that says, “I love you if … you give me what I want sexually” or “I love you if … you have sex with me just this once.” Another subtle sexual if pressure is found in the common misconception that all dating couples are having sex. The message is, “Since everyone is doing it, you will love me if you do it too.” What these girls don’t realize is that the love they expect to win from a boy by meeting his sexual demands is only a cheap imitation of love. It compromises their character. It cannot satisfy the need for love and in the end it is never worth the price of sexual compromise. To be continued.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

True Love Isn't ... Sex

True love is not the same as sex. Many students (and many adults as well) confuse the intensity of sexual desire with true love. Perhaps you have wondered the same thing about your sexual desires for someone.

Sex as God intended it is not wrong. It was designed by God for procreation and fulfillment within the bounds of marriage. But sex and love are distinct. You can have sex without love and love without sex. Love is a process; sex is an act. Love is learned; sex is instinctive. Love requires constant attention; sex takes no effort. Love takes time to develop and mature; sex needs no time to develop. Love requires emotional and spiritual interaction; sex requires only physical interaction. Love deepens a relationship; sex without love dulls a relationship.

If love is more than lust, romance, infatuation or sex, you may wonder how you know whether you're in love. That’s the big question, especially when you find yourself attracted to members of the opposite sex and increasingly involved in dating. To answer that question, you need to know more than what true love isn’t. You need to understand what true love is. Just as many people confuse love with lust, romance, infatuation, and sex, many are also in the dark about the different kinds of love people express.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

True Love Isn't ... Infatuation

True love is not the same as infatuation. Infatuation is a fascination with and intense interest in someone of the opposite sex. You find yourself thinking about that person all day and dreaming about him or her all night. You plan your day around seeing or talking to that special person. Your thoughts may be so preoccupied with that person that you can’t concentrate on anything else. Another term for infatuation is puppy love. Puppy love may be real to a puppy but if the only love you experience is puppy love, you will end up leading a dog’s life!

When people talk about “falling in love” or “love at first sight”, they are usually talking about infatuation. Infatuation can leave a female feeling breathless and starry-eyed about him. And he might feel lightheaded and addlebrained with her. Maybe you have experienced similar feelings about someone of the opposite sex. Infatuation is usually “me-centered,” it's about the feelings you feel. Love is “others-centered,” it's more concerned about how the other person feels.

Monday, August 2, 2010

True Love Isn't ... Romance

True love is not the same as romance. When a couple is together, they can almost hear violins playing sweet love music. When they kiss, emotional fireworks go off inside. Whenever he speaks sweet words of love and affection or cares for her in kind, romantic ways, she feels like a princess. Whenever she gazes lovingly into his eyes, he feels stronger and more important than anyone else. Candlelight dinners, soft music, and starry skies bring on intense romantic feelings in both of them.

Romantic feelings are wonderful in a close male/female relationship. God wired us to experience these feelings in special relationships with the opposite sex. Perhaps you have enjoyed the inner warmth and fireworks of romance in a dating relationship. But the excitement and warmth of romance cannot be equated with true love. Romance is a feeling; true love is much more.