It is no accident that mankind everywhere is searching for love. But as Johnny Lee sang in 1980:
“I was lookin’ for love in all the wrong places
Lookin’ for love in too many faces
Searchin’ their eyes
Lookin’ for traces of what I’m dreaming of
Hopin’ to find a friend and lover
I’ll bless the day I discover another heart
Lookin’ for love”
Without really meaning to, Johnny exposed the way many of us think of love: that it should be reciprocal. When someone loves us, it is much easier to love in return. Gary Chapman identified that we all have what he calls “love tanks.” When our love tanks are full, then we are better people, and treat others with more love and grace. But when our love tanks are empty, we can become disconnected, hopeless, inconsiderate, disrespectful, even mean and hateful. In healthy relationships, he suggests we should work to keep the other’s love tank full, as far as it is in our power to do so. Unfortunately, when our own tank is running on fumes, we lack the energy, and wind up in pain and disappointment.
God created man in His image with both the need for and the capacity to love. In identifying the two greatest commands, Jesus explained that it was so we could, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:30-31) Practicing these would literally change the world, if only we could actually do it.
While the above seems impossible in this age of self-absorption and divisiveness, God has given us a roadmap. He took the lead with one-sided, unconditional/no requirements/no expectations love. Jesus, God the Son, gave His very life in exchange for ours – loving us to death – just for the chance of having relationship with us. There was nothing reciprocal or guaranteed about it. This is true Love, and the only way we can truly love others is through this model. Yet because of its scope, it is beyond our ability to accomplish. So we start with what we CAN do – rather, what we can’t help NOT doing when we truly understand the enormity of ALL that Jesus freely gave us. “We love Him because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)
The amazing fact is that Jesus continues to give, starting with His precious Holy Spirit to indwell us, direct us, and empower us. The more we know and understand Him through the Spirit, the more His love fills our hearts. This love is so voluminous that our finite hearts exceed their capacities, creating overflow. Through Him as the Source, the Supply, and the very Expression of love, can we now do the impossible to love others when they are unlovely – like Jesus did for us. “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. This is how we know that we belong to the Truth and how we set our hearts at rest in His Presence.” (1 John 3:18-19)
Lord, please help me initiate love, seeing others through Your eyes, and loving them with Your heart.