Real Love, True Love or Love for Self?
A blog about discovering a God worth knowing.
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Real Love Pursuit
We’re all wired for love. It is our passion and pursuit. We chase it wildly and search for it everywhere. And because it is such a deeply sourced motivation, everything around us promises to deliver true love. "Wear/drive/own this and love will be the result! Be with this person, and when they say or do ____, then I will have found true love!" Everything plays into our deep desire for real love. So when is it real love and when is it just about self?
I am reading a book that summarizes every book of the Bible from a bird's eye view. Its purpose is to gain a broad perspective of the Bible as a whole rather than sinking down into the little nuances. It's like circling the runway before taking her in for a landing. It has been mostly enjoyable but at times the author gets a bit hung up on his personal purview, which makes it more about nuance. Oh, well! I'm currently reading about David's life in the books of Samuel, specifically Amnon's love for Tamar. At this point, the author defines lust. In a word, lust is about serving self and ultimately is hatred. WOW!
Amnon's about-face from true love to hatred certainly proves his deep passion, but real love? NO. Often I've heard lust described as real LOVE. "Oh, I sooo love them!" is mooed with such pining desire about that heart-capturing other. But is that love? Is my infatuation and lust love?
The author of this book correlates lust and hatred as being closely related. And the story of Amnon and Tamar clearly proves this. "I want you, I want you, I want you, I had you, and ick! Now I hate you!" This is shocking, I know, because these feelings loom so big in my heart and emotions. "It feels positive, so why isn't it true love?" What some people call real love is actually hatred for that other person. Our bold proclamations of love can simply emphasize our extreme love for self. What it says is, “I don’t really care anything about you, but I do extremely love me! I want you to be with me because it will satisfy me!” This exposes the love as for self. That’s not love for another person.
True Love versus Self-love
When is love real rather than being for self? Love is unconditional selflessness. I believe the high rate of divorce proves we are becoming more and more loveless and increasingly selfish. If I get married with the goal for satisfying self, is it actually hatred rather than love for my spouse? If it isn't unconditional selflessness, then it is selfishness. And if it is selfishness, then it is hatred. Is it any wonder why so many marriages are ending in divorce?! If it isn't about love, how can I be unified in lasting love?
Here is the kicker: the source of love is God and no other. I can profess my love to the moon and back, but the reality is that most of what we call love is really for self; hence, it is not actually love. Love is God! This is why my marital vows bind me to God. Unless He is the source of my love, I have no love. I might have passion. Assuredly I have desire. I could even be someone who gives of himself. But if my LOVE is not emanating from God, it is just for self, regardless of how deep it feels.
Real, Real Love
So when is love real? Love is real when it comes from Jesus. Christ is unconditional selflessness. Jesus is 1 Corinthians 13 in totality, while I in myself am decidedly not. Sad but true, my highest expression of human love, at its core, is just for self.
Christ's love alone is patient and kind, not jealous, boastful or proud, not rude or demanding of it's own way, not irritable or keeping record of wrong, not rejoicing in injustice but celebrating when truth wins. His love never loses faith and always hopes and endures through EVERY circumstance. Love is divine and seen in me when I connect to the very heart of God, allowing Him to love me and love through me.
Why is this good news? What makes this post hopeful? Why should this give me reason to celebrate? This post has the means to be most liberating and freeing. If I know where true love comes from, then I can seek it from the Fount and not be trapped in a rut of false pursuit. When is my love real? When it comes from Christ and through me to the world. And when is my love for self? Whenever it percolates out of my own heart and desire.
Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down His life for His friends.
Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
1 John 4:8