What a word! It can mean so many different things. And who really knows what it means?
We use the word “love” so often, it sometimes can sound trite and insincere. Or it comes off as a superficial pleasantry.
But more often than not when we use the word “love,” we mean something deeper and closer to the heart.
What do you mean when you say you love something or tell someone you love them?
What does the word “love” actually mean?
Well, the other day, I got curious and actually looked it up in the dictionary. Now I’ve got various dictionaries around the house including one on my iPhone, which I use a lot. But this time I used the 1828 edition of Noah Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language.
There was almost a page of different definitions, but the one that stood out to me was this: “an affection of the mind excited by beauty and worth of any kind…”
What lept out at me was the word, “worth.” To love something is to see its worth. This can be on lots of levels obviously. But for me I was thinking of loving people in the way Jesus commanded us in the verses quoted above from John, chapter 15.
Stop and think how much God loved Jesus!
Right now, take a moment to ponder how God loved His Son. And not just “how much,” but think about the manner of love it was as well.
In other words, think of the infinite beauty and value God saw in Jesus.
Once you get an inkling of what that love is like, remember that Jesus loves us that same way the Father loves him. Jesus sees in us the same infinite value and beauty that the Father saw in him.
And guess what, Jesus wants us to love each other in that very same way.
If we truly want to live in obedience to Jesus, we will have the same quantity and quality of love for each other as Jesus has for us and and God has for Jesus. We will see the same beauty and worth in those around us that God sees in Jesus.
Right about now, you may be thinking, “I can’t love that much. I just can’t do it. How on earth can Jesus expect me to love that much. It’s not humanly possible.”
Well, yes and no.
You can’t do it by yourself, but with God you can.
Jesus never demands of us anything that is impossible. He knew we are capable of loving this way. But our little human heart is not capable of this kind of love all by itself. However grand and generous the human affections may be, they are not the source of love. God is.
The human heart is not the origin of love. It’s more like a river that God’s love flows through.
Put love to the test.
Think of someone in your life right now that needs to feel loved. Now think about how God loves that person (yes, in spite of all his or her shortcomings that are obvious to you).
Now take it to the “beauty and value” level. Think of how God sees this person’s infinite, spiritual beauty and value as one of His children.
Even if someone seems crusty with sin, bitter with resentment or has even purposely harmed you, he or she needs–more than anything–to feel loved. There is still beauty and worth hidden away somewhere. God sees it because He created it. If you look through God’s eyes instead of your own, you will see it too.
To your beauty and worth,