Certain words make me angry.

Tolerance is one of those words.  So is religion.  And love.

I’m bothered by these words because they are so often used incorrectly.  Somewhere along the line people decided they could define these words however they want, but they can’t.  The very nature of a word is that it has a specific definition, and to change that definition to reflect your agenda goes against the most basic of linguistic rules.

Love is one of those words that is abused every single day.

A lot of people say love when they mean lust.  Especially high school boys.  No one loves somebody after dating 1 week.  You may want to sleep with somebody that soon (or sooner), but you don’t love them.

Others use love synonymously with like.  You love your shirt, you might say.  Except you don’t.  You may be drawn to it’s color and style, but you wouldn’t sacrificially commit to your shirt.

Even more annoyingly, people describe their own selfishness as love.  You love your spouse until they don’t meet your needs/wants.  Then you bolt.  That’s not love.  That’s selfishness.

These misuses of the word love attempt to redefine it for our own agendas.  What we’re left with is a society that says, “I can love what I want how I want when I want and still call it love.”

Notice how many “I’s” are in that sentence?  And how many pronouns are their for others?

Precisely my point.  LOVE IS NOT ABOUT ME!

Love is doing what is in the other person’s best interest, even if neither of you like it.

But what if the two of you don’t agree on what’s “best”? Isn’t that a subjective term?

Only if you don’t have a foundation for your beliefs.

Of course, for me, the Bible is my foundation. God’s Word tells me what is best for me and others. And to love others well, I need to treat them how the Bible tells me to treat them and advise them to act in accordance with God’s prescriptions.

Even if neither of us like it. Even if we both hate it. Even if it doesn’t feel good at the time. Even if we aren’t happy about it.

When we choose to love how God wants us to love, even though it’s hard, God will show us something.

It feels hard to love biblically because our default setting is selfishness. We feel like we have to be the author of our own happiness, and we buy the lie that our satisfaction is the end all be all of this life.

That being the case, when we are asked to love according to God’s definition of love (i.e., selflessly), it goes against our nature and causes some chaos in our hearts. We feel angry, bitter, self-righteous, cheated, and a whole host of other negative emotions when we are asked to love selflessly.

But these emotions are momentary. (Or, if you’re thick-headed like me, they may last an hour, a day, a week, a month, a year, or longer…)  The point is, though, these feelings won’t last forever. They are a sign our hearts are out of sync with the Lord’s.  And as we talk to Him about our feelings, telling Him straight up how dissatisfied we are with His plan, how illogical it feels to us, and how unjust it seems that He is calling us to sacrifice for another human being, He listens to us.

And then He offers to change our hearts for us so they look more like His.

When we are ready for Him to do so, He goes to work, first showing us how well He has loved us and what that love has cost Him. When our minds begin to grasp that concept, we realize whatever sacrificial way we are being asked to love others isn’t so big after all. Giving up our “rights” to happiness is not as huge as literally giving up our lives on a wooden cross.

As we gain perspective, we become more agreeable to loving others God’s way. We start to obey, acting out biblical love toward others, even though we aren’t entirely sold on the idea that it is actually in our best interest to do so.

But as we obey and press on in godly love, God lets us in on a wonderful secret. He begins to show us that loving others selflessly will bring us more happiness than we could ever experience by continuing to try to control our own fulfillment.

How can that be?

Because loving others the way God wants us to brings us closer to Him emotionally, and that is the end all be all of this life.