I Love Big Macs
Because love wasn’t modeled in my home, I grew up understanding the word as the way to define good experiences or feelings. I learned to say things like “I love horses,” “I love Big Macs,” and “I love watching TV,” but I seldom expressed love for people. It wasn’t until I started to have strong feelings for boys that I got the urge to say “I love you” to another human being. With this emotional and hormonal change, my ideas of love began to grow. I soon came to view love as an intense feeling for another human being emanating from physical desire. My understanding of love stayed in this space for most of my early adult life, helping me to decide that love is fleeting, that it hurts tremendously, and that it is almost impossible to find. I gave my heart for short periods of time, soon to recant in favor of a new object of affection, as I went from man to man.
Love never really found form in my life, not until my true love came along in the person of Jesus. When I started to see what true love is, when I took a look at the Author of love, I started to get a more accurate, wholesome, and beneficial understanding of this seemingly unfathomable concept. According to God’s Word, much to my surprise, love is less about how I feel, but more about what I do. It isn’t about getting, but giving. It isn’t about reward, but sacrifice. And it isn’t about excitement, but endurance.
In the chapter of Scripture most recited at weddings, 1 Corinthians 13, we are given a godly description of a love lived not for self but for the loved one. A love that sees the object of its affection delights in that object and wants noth- ing but the other’s welfare, even over self. In God’s own words, “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends” (1 Cor. 13:4–8). If you look closely at this list of characteris- tics of love, you will see something striking, which is that it’s got the fruit of the Spirit all over it. Patience and kindness are listed first. Goodness is a part of not being irritable or resentful. Gentleness is wrapped up in “it is not arrogant or rude.” Joy is a part of rejoicing with the truth. Faithfulness is revealed in the words “bears all things, believes all things.” And peace is seen in “does not insist on its own way.” The only thing we can’t immediately spot here is self-control; however, each of these responses to being tested by our loved ones requires some form of self-control.
So then, we can see that love is not just another fruit of the Spirit; it is the foundation of all of the fruit, a requirement, an essential first fruit before all others. And conversely, without each of the fruit, love would be nonexistent. Without love, all other fruit will be a cheap imitation of the real thing. As it says at the beginning of 1 Corinthians 13 about this kind of love- less goodness, “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing” (vv. 1–3). So then, the other fruit of the Spirit done without love are useless, nothing, a vapor in the wind.
Excerpted from The Fruitful Wife: Cultivating a love only God can produce.