What is love? Dictionary.com defines love as an intense feeling of deep affection. We tend to think of love as a feeling we have toward a person. Because this view of love is based on feelings that come and go, we often see love as something that ebbs and flows with how we are feeling about a person and how they are treating us in return. Here’s the issue with this feelings-based definition of love – our feelings can sometimes lie to us. Our feelings are often selfish, inviting us to put ourselves first and others second. Feelings are meant to inform but not to steer our lives. If love isn’t a feeling, what is it?
“Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.” Ephesians 5:1-2
Love is a choice; it’s a sacrifice of self for the sake of others.
Yesterday we heard that fully becoming like Jesus in our thoughts, motivations, and choices is what it means to mature in our faith. But how do we know if we are on the right path? How do we know if we’re moving toward maturity? If I ask you how you feel about your progress, that can be deceptive – some of you will feel you’re on the right track when you’re far from God. Others of you will discount the progress you’re making as not enough and fail to realize the good work God is doing to form and shape you into His image. What is the measure of maturity?
Love. Not love as a feeling of deep affection for people, but love the way Paul defined it and Jesus lived it- a sacrifice of self for the sake of others. You will know you are on the road to becoming more like Jesus if you are loving others more fully and completely today than you did yesterday, last month, or last year. You are moving toward maturity if you are more willing to set aside your rights, privileges, and preferences in order to serve others than you were in the past. You are making progress on the road to maturity if you desire what is best for others more than you desire what is best for yourself. Sacrificial love is the measure of maturity.
Are you loving people more fully and completely today than you did a year ago? Are you sacrificing self for the sake of others as Jesus did? Fewer of us have actually reached full maturity in Christ than we would like to believe. Let’s keep growing in our love, not just our knowledge. How well we love is the measure of spiritual maturity.
Author: Anne Bosarge