Understanding a Greater Love

September 19, 2017 | Justin Stevenson

Currently, we are in a series all about relationships and what it means to truly love others. When I was first asked to write about this topic, I thought, “Love? What could I say about it that hasn’t already been said?” The word, love, seems to be thrown around a lot in the world today. The word is supposed to be meaningful and serious, but just today I caught myself saying “I love you” both to someone who is sincerely important to me, my wife, as well as to those who are not as significant, our two cats. On any other day, I wouldn’t have given this a second thought, but today I had to stop and ask myself, “Do you really mean that?” 

I was reminded of my six-year-old nephew who is known to really take some lessons to heart. Earlier this year, he learned the importance of telling the truth and how not telling the truth can have negative consequences. For some time afterward, he lived this out to the extreme, so much so that he struggled to say, "I love you” because he wanted to be sure he was telling the truth if he said it. When I first heard this story, I had to admire the innocence and sincerity of the kid, but looking back now I wonder if there should be more of a struggle inside of me when I say, “I love you.”

The Bible uses the word “love” quite a bit. In fact, some of the most memorable verses talk specifically about love:

  • “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
  • "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking…” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5)

  • “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

These verses say more about love than I ever could, but here is what sticks out to me:

  1. John 3:16 – Talk is cheap. Do Something.
    Using the word, love, doesn’t mean much if it is not backed up by action. God could have just said “I love you,” but instead He gave up His Son to show that love. I could tell my wife, “I love you”, but if I am not willing to show her love by folding the laundry or cooking dinner every once in a while, my words won’t mean much.

  2. 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 – Get Over Yourself.
    Love is hard because love means putting someone else’s needs above my own. The problem is, I like preferring myself over everyone else! One of the most humbling sections of scripture is Philippians 2:6-8. Take a moment to read through it and consider the significance of Jesus choosing to serve you and me. It doesn’t seem right, but if Jesus was willing to take up the shameful place of a servant, I’m pretty sure I can work on being patient and kind.

  3. Romans 5:8 – Love Someone Who Makes It Difficult.
    We all have people in our lives that are a bit more “difficult” to love than others. Though loving others isn’t always easy, God has shown time and time again that love can overcome all challenges. We certainly have not always made it easy for God to love us, however, He continues to chase after us and show His love, regardless of what we’ve done. If God can love me in all my brokenness, who should I be loving, even when it hurts?

I suppose I should correct myself. Earlier, I said the word “love” is supposed to be meaningful and serious. However, love is so much more than that. We have to take action and choose to love others, even when it’s not easy. Love requires effort; we must be willing to look beyond ourselves and consider the needs of those around us. After all, there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (John 15:13).

Zachary Staines

Justin Stevenson is the Assistant Director of Communications. He helps create appealing graphics and printed material along with the Creative Design and Publication teams. Justin is married to the wonderful Lindsey Stevenson and they have two cats, Taylor Swift and Samson.