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| Mary Lawler

   "Love never fails." 1 Cor. 13:8

   Love. We hear the term a lot.  Its misuse as in “I just love Reese’s” cheapens and confuses us.

   So, what is it?  We readily see it as an emotion or feeling.  But it’s much, much more.  The Bible tells us, “Love never gives up.  Love cares more for others than self.  Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.  Love doesn’t strut.  Doesn’t have a swelled head.  Doesn’t force itself on others, isn’t always ‘me first,’ doesn’t fly off the handle, doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, doesn’t revel when others grovel, takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, puts up with anything, trusts God always, always looks for the best, never looks back, but keeps going to the end.  Love never dies” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).

   Love is a choice and involves action.  Love grows slowly.  It’s when someone knows your faults and wants to be with you anyway.  Your world is better when your loved one is in it.  Love can even withstand absences, even distances apart. 

   Unfortunately, there are counterfeits.  Acting on counterfeits is sad – you’re missing out on the real thing.  You base important decisions on a feeling (Matt. 19:6).  Infatuation is often mistaken for love.  It is intensely me-focused.  An infatuation relationship may start fast but is over quickly.  You see your special one as perfect, but you want to know “what have you done for me lately?”  It’s tattooing their name in big letters on your arms before you’ve known them a week.  It rarely survives separation or long distances.  This obsession rarely lasts though the consequences of your choices will.

   Our culture has confused love with sex.  God designed us and sex is part of that design (Mat. 19:5-6).  He put boundaries around sex for our own good.  In the covenant of marriage with a faithful mate, sex can be the two becoming one.  The union is similar to how close we see the three parts of the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as One.  Those happiest with their sex life and those having the most sex are married couples.  Having a hard time separating love and sex?  Consider rape – it does fit the definition of sex but is far from love.

   So where do I get real love?  Hollywood would have you believe a fantasy.  You just happen to be at the right place at the right time.  Your beauty or strength will dazzle others.  Fate will present your soulmate. Then the two of you will live happily ever after.  End of movie.  End of fantasy.

   There’s a better way.  Live so that God is your first priority.  Love God by obeying Him (Matt. 22:37-39). As He grows us as Christians, we become the best person we can be.  Beauty will be more about what’s on the inside than outside (1 Peter 3:3-5).

   Focus on becoming a good friend.  Not like the ghosts on Facebook or Snapchat but face-to-face, touch my hands, help me and I’ll help you, keep my secrets, tell-me-the-truth friends. 

   Are you loving?  Can you substitute your name for love in the 1 Corinthians 13 reference previously cited in this blog?  For example, I never give up.  I care more about others than myself. I fail and fall short.  But not God.  We can substitute “God” in those same blanks. God never gives up. He cares more for others than self.  He does not strut nor have a swelled head.  He does not force himself on others.  He does not fly off the handle.  The only score of sins God keeps are the unforgiven ones.  He keeps going and never dies.

   God is love.  Find love in Him first.  It’s the real deal.

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