Last month I invited my readers to make a New Year’s resolution to grow in love and to pray what I call the i-LivetoLove prayer every day. I suggested that you listen to the Holy Spirit to inspire you as you pray so that your prayer is authentic and vibrant. How’s that going for you? How has God used this exercise of faith in your life? I would love to hear from you. You can respond in the comments section, or with an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds."
Love is in the air—or is it?
February is the “love” month. With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, “love” is in the air. Or is it lust? It’s easy to get them confused. For example, when you read the following verses, you’ll notice that Amnon loved his half-sister, Tamar. A few verses later, we read that he raped her.
Now it was after this that Absalom the son of David had a beautiful sister whose name was Tamar, and Amnon the son of David loved her.
(2 Samuel 13:1)
However, he would not listen to her; since he was stronger than she, he violated her and lay with her. (2 Samuel 13:14)
What kind of love did Amnon have for Tamar? It certainly isn’t the kind of love any woman would want or consider to be love, on Valentine’s Day or any other day, for that matter. The implication from the context is that Amnon had what we might call a romantic type of love, which we usually associate with Valentine’s Day. It’s the same kind of love that’s usually portrayed in the movies and advertisements about this day. That’s why it’s easy to get confused.
This is the same kind of love we might have for cheesecake, pizza, steak, ice cream, or cookies (how come vegetables aren’t usually on this list?). These things are loved in the same way Tamar was loved by Amnon. It was really lust. We “love” these things because we can use them and because we derive pleasure from them. I’m highlighting these things this month because I want us to understand that this kind of love really isn’t the kind of love we should have for people.
Love with God’s love
When you read in the Hebrews 10:23-24 passage above about the love we are supposed to stimulate among us, it’s referring to God’s kind of love—the same kind of love that has been revealed in Jesus Christ. Perhaps you’ll like the following definition of this kind of love, like I do. God’s kind of love is a sustained direction of the will toward the highest good of another, no matter what the cost. If Amnon had had that kind of love for Tamar, he never would have violated her by forcing himself on her because he was stronger than she was. A husband or man who would do such a thing is motivated by lust, and nothing could be further from true love. It’s evil and diabolical. It’s right out of Satan’s playbook to steal, kill, and destroy.
This Valentine’s Day, I hope you’ll abandon the world’s kind of love, where people are loved like cheesecake is loved. Instead, consider how to stimulate each other to love with God’s kind of love. Consider what would encourage your spouse or friends to know, love, and become like Christ, which is their highest good. That’s the kind of love I mean when I pray the i-LivetoLove prayer.
Father in heaven, thank You for another day of life to live to know and love You and to love with Jesus. Anoint and fill me with the Holy Spirit, the power and presence of Christ, so that I can love and trust You and love those You put in my path today, for Your glory.
I hope you’ll consider in prayer how you might stimulate others to love and do good deeds this Valentine’s Day, for the glory of God. In the comments section, would you place any ideas God gives you for how you can love like that this year? Sharing this way, we can encourage one another as the Scriptures teach us to do. So this month, as we continue growing in love, let’s ask God to keep us aware of the ways we’re inclined or tempted to love people like we love cheesecake, and pray that He’ll help us instead to love people like Jesus loves us.