We have become a very self-centered culture today. In that we have twisted the meaning of love. If you ask a person how they know they are in love. they will begin to explain all the good things that this person does for them. They base their entire concept of love on the way the other person makes them feel. He makes me feel desired. He makes me feel beautiful. He makes me the center of his universe. When I see him it makes my heart skip a beat. The Apostle says that love is not self-seeking. How could we describe love in these terms, and still hold that it is within the confines of Paul's definition? The truth is that we can't. While these may be good things to feel while in love. If that is the only concept of love that we have, then we have missed the point. True love is more about what you are willing to do for the other.
In order to fully understand what love truly is, then we need to look at the great lover. Wesley described Jesus as the lover of his soul. He is our groom and we are his bride. He has a deep love for all of his people. The most important thing that we can learn from Jesus about love is that he is always doing what is in our best interest. He gives us the good gift of sex, and then says that it should be confined to marriage. He gives us the good gift of alcohol, and then warns us that we should not drink to excess. He gives us the good gift of food, and then tells us to not be gluttons. I think sometimes we believe that love is always giving in to the wants and desires of our loved ones. Does Jesus always tell us yes? No, he lovingly places limits on us. We limits aren't in order to make us miserable. He understands that if we were left to ourselves, and always told yes, that we would inevitably destroy ourselves. Man is desperately wicked above all things. Men love darkness rather than light. His love is the purest love. He is willing to do what is in our own best interest even when we can't understand why.
True honest love is never always rainbows and unicorns. Sometimes, it can be a real battle. When you promise to put another person's welfare ahead of your own, then you have accepted a very tough mission. Sometimes, we are unable to see for ourselves what is in our best interest. If we were left alone, then we would make wrong choice after wrong choice. The seductive part of sin is that is always feels right. If we can lie to ourselves enough, then we often can dampen the voice of conviction that is eating away at us. To truly love someone is to be the voice of reason, when your partner is not being reasonable. Sometimes, love has to say no. You don't say no as a means to control another. Your no should be firmly grounded in the best interest of the other. Your partner may despise you for your no. You cannot allow that anger and bitterness to persuade you to lose sight of their own best interest. Ultimately, your love is not so much about the other, as it is being faithful to God. God has entrusted others to us, to care for. He has given us the responsibility to put their welfare above our own. That is what your first concern should be. If your partner is mired in sin and disobedience, then you have to be willing to tell them no. If you are never willing to tell someone no, then you truly do not love them. Your constant yeses will eventually lead to their own destruction. When they are caught in the grips of sin, they are unable to see what is in their best interest. The world could be on fire around them, and all they can see is how right and good their decisions feel. God has called you to be the voice of reason. God has called you to be the objective voice that can lead them gently from their sin, and back to him. If your child wanted to do something dangerous, then you would tell him no, right? Why when we see loved ones doing things that are deadly to their souls, are we not as willing to say no to them? How can we say no when it could destroy their bodies, and not say no when it could destroy their souls? Learning to say no, and having the strength to stand behind your no, is learning to love them as Christ has loved us.