My favorite definition of love comes from the philosopher/theologian/author C.S. Lewis. He says, “Love is not an affectionate feeling, but rather a steady pursuit for the loved person’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained.”
Wow. When I read those words, it kinda slaps me in the face that I’ve seen love all wrong for so long. Love isn’t about us. Love isn’t about what we GET, but rather what we GIVE. When we love someone, it’s not about what they do for us or how they make us feel – instead it’s about what we can do for them, and how we can make them feel. Thinking of it in that light makes me wonder – do we sometimes love for selfish reasons? I know I have before. I love someone because they make me feel this way or that way. I love someone because they build my self confidence. I love someone because they make me smile. Does that make me a selfish person? I think so.
If we love someone because of what WE get out of it, we are loving for all the wrong reasons. If we love someone because of how they make us feel, we are loving for all the wrong reasons. If we love someone because of any self gain at all – it would be for the wrong reasons. This type of thinking really makes me step back and reflect on my motives for loving someone. Am I loving for my own gain? Because of how I feel in return? Or is my love that I give completely selfless? I submit to you, that if we have any self motivated reasons to love, that we are not truly loving the way we should. Love isn’t about the warm tinglies we get when that person looks us in the eye. Love isn’t about the confidence that comes with having that perfect person in your arms. Love isn’t about the happiness that WE get in return. Love is about sacrifice. Love is about work. Love is about making sure that the OTHER person is happy. Love is seeing the potential in that person, and helping them achieve it. Love is building up, encouraging, sustaining, and adoring that person. As Lewis would say, love is about seeking out the highest form of happiness for THAT person, as far as it can be obtained.
Can I challenge you today? Try, for ONE day, to love selflessly. To love without expectations. To love without a desire of what you would get in return. This, I believe, is the more divine kind of love. This is how God loves us. He doesn’t love us because He needs us – but He loves us because we need Him. He loves us because He wants what’s best for us. He knows that some of us will turn Him away, treat Him like dirt, yell at Him, blame Him for things, curse His name and even love other things more than we love Him … But He still loves us. Without expectation. Without reservation. Without any self-gained motive on His part.
If this is the kind of love that God expresses to us – can’t we, in the most humble way we know how, express that same sort of love to others? A romance isn’t born because someone gives you the warm fuzzies. A romance flourishes because you love them without expectations, and they love you the same way. That kind of love, divine love, is the love that can mend any heart.