The Dreaded 'L' Word


It’s been quite some time since I have posted on my blog. I’d like to say that I have a perfectly good explanation for that, but unfortunately not.

The last couple of months have been very intriguing; especially leading up to the New Year. After putting on about 5 stone between Christmas day and New Year’s, January came and the ‘L’ word hit me right in the face. Disclaimer: this piece is not attempting to redefine or alter the definition of Love; but rather to cast a light on what Scripture has to say about it and how the world has tainted its meaning. I swore I’d never write about this for a long time to come but recent events and convictions have compelled me to do so. So here we go.

Last week I had a gathering with some friends for a birthday celebration, and in my attempted ‘speech’, I disclosed how much the celebrant were loved by their friends. Shortly after, one of my friends denied their love for the celebrant which shocked me – up until I heard the justifications for doing so. These justifications consisted of certain ideologies such as: “Love is a strong word, I don’t use it very lightly,” “I don’t just love anyone. The only people I am entitled to love is my family”. It shocked me to not only to hear how boldly this individual was to deny their love for somebody, but also a clear declaration saying “I am not ashamed to say that I am not fulfilling what Christ states to be one of the most important commandments”. I vastly exaggerated what the individual actually said but in doing so, I hope to illuminate the seriousness of failing to love thy neighbour as thyself. (Mark 12:31).

But before I embark on that ship, let’s talk about the word itself and its discrepancies. Contrary to popular believe, you are in control of who you love, and how long you love them for. This contradicts the infamous idea of being in love; better yet, falling in love. I fail to believe that love is a state of mind that one can merely fall into. But rather it is a road that one is willing to travel down regardless of the individual presented before them. In other words, love is unconditional. Please notice the way I phrased it. I did not state that there is a type of love called ‘unconditional love’. If there is anything that I am most confident about, it is that love itself, true love, is indeed unconditional.  I will leave a link below to all the scriptures supporting biblical evidence for this but for the sake of argument (and word count) let’s assume that love is unconditional.

So going back to my previous scenario, there are many reasons as why that individual may not or may choose to love others as whole heartedly as they are commanded to. Here are few I’ve come up with:

The individual they refuse to love
-       -  Is a liar, evil, a thief or has sinned against you in some way or another
-      -   Is not close enough to you in order for you to feel any love for them
-       -  Is not part of their immediate family
-        - Has not been in my life long enough to love
-        - Is not trust worthy
The truth is, if there is a criteria (even if it’s simplest of requirements) to meet in order to earn your love, then that love is artificial. Conditional love does not exist as it a logical contradiction. If love is unconditional, putting conditions on it destroys its nature.

The earlier verse in the bible that I mentioned is what Christ deemed to be the most important commandment. And if Christ being God, creator of all, deemed something important; I think we’re entitled to take it into consideration; at the very least of course. A question I want to ask is how exactly do I love my neighbour the same way I love myself?

Well firstly I’d like to say that, “I barely love myself” is not an excuse. People who claim they do not love themselves usually mean to say they do not LIKE themselves. Truth be told, their definition of love is tainted as I expressed in the beginning.

The first thing they do when they wake up is brush their teeth, shower (hopefully) and eat breakfast. Whether you like yourself or not, you will take care of yourself – or in context, you will show love to yourself. The fact that you may or may not have low self-esteem or dislike your appearance or personality, doesn’t mean that you do not love yourself. The care you show yourself is living proof of the love you have for yourself. So what does it look like to love your neighbour in the same way you love yourself? Well I’m glad you asked.

Let me use a mother and her baby as an example. The mother has no reason to like or hate her new born child. Yet the mother deems it necessary to ensure the baby is well taken care of by cleaning, feeding and sometimes even entertaining the baby. Occasionally the mother may feel annoyed at the baby because he/she wakes up at early hours in the morning crying and pooing; but this annoyance does not stop the mother from showing her love by cleaning and feeding the baby regardless of how annoyed she is. Cleaning, feeding, and putting a roof over the child’s head are all signs of love. If we were to carry this out in our everyday lives, it would consist of providing for those that are in need, for example, the poor, the homeless and the afflicted. (James 1:27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and windows in their afflictions, and to keep oneself unstained from the world).

But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you and pray for those who abuse you.(Luke 6:27-28)

If we truly loved our neighbour then regardless of what they may have done to us or how vile their personality may be, we will yearn to care for them by doing good, blessing them and praying for them. This is why love isn’t dependant on the individual’s relation to you, such as whether they’re your family, close-friend, friend or even enemy. Earlier on I mentioned the idea of loving your neighbour. In Greek, this can be translated (literally) to ‘any other person’. From this, I can boldly conclude that as Christians, we are commanded to love anyone and everyone regardless of their situation or our feelings towards them. It is clear that without love, we have nothing.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)

Scripture tells us that a person who does not love, does not know God; for God is love (1John 4:8). Love is not just unconditional, but also sacrificial. God exhibited this in the most profound way possible. He became man and gave himself up for His people. Regardless of the sinful nature of man, he loved us so much that He gave His Son a sacrifice to in order to cleanse us from our sins, and reconcile us with Himself. This sacrifice is the most vivid example I can use to express the selflessness and the importance of love.

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

Even whilst we were sinning against Him he showed His love for us. So who are we to refuse to show love to those that do the same?

Stay blessed.

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