“May the love of Jesus fill me,
As the waters fill the sea;
Him exalting, self abasing,
This is victory.”
~ A. Cyril Gould
Authentic love sees the value in other people and treats them accordingly… that is having intrinsic worth. This is what Jesus was referring to when He stated, ‘greater love has no man than this, which is he lay down his life for his friend…’ He went on to describe those who were His friends as, ‘those who understood He and His Word are perfect and chose to obey Him.’
I learned this from AJ who had no practical reason to love me, yet she chose too… What she said and did was from love. There were those who made fun of her… even criticized and took advantage of her, betraying her trust because of how she loved; I know she struggled with this, yet it did not stop her. She didn’t love because she had to or because she received something in return; she loved because she saw value in others, a value anchored in their intrinsic worth that was, ‘Endowed by their Creator’. Was she perfect? No, she was fallible like the rest of us. Yet she intended to honor her Savior with an authentic love that resembled His.
An authentic love is a sacrificial love, one that is unconditional and self-giving. It is how we are called by God to love one another. John writes, “A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so also you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35). A self-giving love like what Jesus is describing is a desire to look for what is best in others; this is instead of wanting to take what appears advantageous for ourselves. In our fallen world, this is difficult, but with God’s help, it is all together possible. (Phil 4:13)
There is one thing we must understand and that is what an authentic love is not. First, it provides what is needed and NOT what is ‘wanted’; Second, it speaks the truth and NOT what people want to hear; and third, authentic love is NOT self driven… that is, it doesn’t pursue what is believed to be good for me or you, but desires what is Glorifying to God, who is Love; and, will get us both to securely rest in Jesus our Savior. Paul tells us, “an authentic love is patient and kind; it is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance” (1 Cor 13:4-7).
Honestly, Sometimes I wish it wasn’t all these things and I could walk away from circumstances, not making myself vulnerable to being hurt again and again. But, I can’t say ‘I love God and believe His Word’ if I do that. For it was by making Himself vulnerable and bearing my guilt and shame that our Savior revealed what love is and that I held intrinsic worth, ‘endowed by my God.’ “What shall we say about such a wonderful thing as this? If God is for us, how could we ever be truly vulnerable? Since He did not spare even His own Son but gave Him up for us all, and His being obedient even unto the cross, won’t He then also give us everything else His Word and promises include?” (adapted from Romans 8:31-32)
In her death AJ game me a gift that I will forever treasure. She entrusted her life to me in asking me to defend her dignity in death. When they found her non-responsive at her home in Florida, I flew down fully expecting to enforce her DNR… I am grateful for that kind of love that saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself. I am also grateful God, in His grace, gave her 8 more weeks to see Wyatt born before she rested with her Savior.
Not sure why this is on my mind today… other than life has been a whirlwind since she died. I guess we learn more in their absence than we do when those who authentically love are present with us. It is like a curtain is drawn back on their heart, revealing that which we took for granted; what was authentic and self-giving. After AJ had passedd it become real evident how much she cared for my mom, providing her a safe environment as her dementia progressed.
Authentic love changes things… it gives, even at a great cost so that God is glorified.
“May I run the race before me,
Strong and brave to face the foe… Looking only unto Jesus As I onward go.
May His beauty rest upon me
As I seek the lost to win,
And may they forget the channel… Seeing only Him.”
Praying 4 U
Written by David Brown: David Brown is a husband, father, grandfather, Pastor with a Masters of Religious Studies and a Professor of Philosophy and Comparative Religions. Dave is the Associate Pastor of Pemberton’s First Baptist Church. He is the author of two devotional books, “From a Chair by the Window.” And “#PrayerWinsThe Day”.
Think About This: “Only when awe of God rules your heart will you be able to keep the pleasures of the material world in their proper place.” ―
This Week’s Verse to Memorize: A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” –John 13:34-35