So what does true love look like in real life?
Start by asking yourself these tough questions to discover what it isn’t:
If you always make your boyfriend take you to the mall but never watch football with him, do you really love him?
If you never wake up early on Saturday morning to attend your sister’s piano recitals, do you really love her?
If you never let your little brother pick the movie to watch after dinner, do you really love him?
If you always talk about yourself with your friend and zone out whenever she starts talking, do you really love her?
If you always look up YouTube videos instead of helping your dad mow the lawn, do you really love him?
I know these questions may seem unreasonable, but they’re legitimate questions that require legitimate answers.
But if you’re starting to feel guilty, you’re not alone. I’m guilty of snatching the TV remote before my family can chime in with ideas, blabbing nonstop about myself instead of asking my friends about their lives, and checking my blog stats instead of letting my sister paint my nails with her new nail kit.
But, with God’s help, we can turn away from our selfish behaviors and behave selflessly instead.
It [love] does not act disgracefully, it does not seek its own benefit; it is not provoked, does not keep an account of a wrong suffered. (1 Corinthians 13:5 NASB)
To be honest, I’ve let my sister borrow my new book and called it “love.” (In reality, I’d finished the book yesterday and no longer needed it.)
I’ve talked to the new girl at church and called it a “sacrifice.” (In reality, my friend wanted to go say hi to her; I just tagged along and hoped to appear friendly.)
I’ve helped my mom make a casserole for dinner and called it “love.” (In reality, I would’ve rather made a casserole than water the garden, which she’d asked me to do earlier.)
But love often requires taking the “me” out of the equation.
It means putting yourself—including your hopes, dreams, and desires—after others.
What does it mean to love God and put Him before yourself?
It means not going to see the vulgar movie that all (and I mean every single one) of your friends is going to see, wearing a dress over your leggings instead of a t-shirt because you want to be modest, or serving at your church’s prayer breakfast even though you’re tired.
What does it mean to love others and put them before yourself?
It means striking up a conversation with the shyest kid in youth group instead of playing dodgeball with everyone else, listening to your grandpa talk about the Cold War even though you want to post pictures on Instagram, or working an extra shift so you can buy your dad a new drill for his birthday.
When you slap the “love” label on your actions, you need to ponder your motives. Do you want to give something—or get something—by doing those things? Do those actions require sacrifices on your part? Do they require care and special attention?
Love isn’t a choice; it’s a command. I wish it was a choice because then I could choose not to do it, but it is the foundation of our faith. Without love, we’re just like the world.
So try it.
Make a sacrifice.
I challenge you to give up your desire to fulfill someone else’s desire. It might be the hardest thing you ever do, but it pleases God.
As I wrote in my last post, “Love is in the Care, Part 1,” Christ made the greatest sacrifice for us by laying down His life. Can we make even a small sacrifice for Him and for others?