Real Love

Through the years, I’ve heard people say, “He wouldn’t know the truth if he met it the road.”

That describes most of us, doesn’t it? After all, it’s hard, if not impossible, to know the truth about anyone or anything. We think we know; but when we receive additional information, we question what we once believed.

How many of us, for example, would recognize love if we met it in the road? Oh, we think we know love, especially around Valentine’s Day when sales of chocolates, diamonds, and roses are at an all-time high.

But real love is accurately portrayed by ministry rather than by marketing. Jesus is our perfect example of real love, so let’s look at what He said about love and how He modeled it.

“The greatest love,” He said in John 15:13, “is shown when people lay down their lives for their friends.” (That’s quite a bit more costly than a box of chocolates, isn’t it?)

Real love, then, is sacrificial. It is willing to give all, even life itself, for the sake of the beloved. It is willing to give time and attention to the beloved. It is willing to give up rights in order to meet the needs of the beloved.

Jesus did that—always. Not once did He put Himself first, even though He was fully deserving of all honor and privilege. Instead, He, the Son of God, assumed the lowly position of a slave when He came to earth in human form. And even though He was God, He did not demand and cling to His rights. (Philippians 2.)
Time and time again while He lived on earth, He ministered to people—healing them, teaching them, raising some from the dead, confronting people about their sins, leading people to greater faith, and so forth. His focus was always on reaching out to others. In fact, He said, “I came not to be served but to serve others and to give My life as a ransom for many.” (See Mark 10:45.)

No ministry task was beneath Him. Just hours before His death, He wrapped a towel around His waist, filled a bowl with water, and knelt down to wash the dusty feet of His disciples. Although that task was normally assigned to a servant, Jesus humbled Himself and did it, without having to be asked, without taking offense when no one offered to wash His feet, and without whining and complaining. (John 13)

Even after His resurrection, He continued to minister to His disciples. For instance, He told them what to do in order to catch a net full of fish. And after they’d come ashore, He cooked breakfast and served it to them. (John 21)
“I command you,” Jesus said, “to love each other in the same way that I love you.” (See John 15:12.)

His kind of love is real love, genuine love. Everything else is counterfeit, even though it may look and feel real. So, let’s not deceive ourselves and think we love—and/or are loved—unless our love is like His.

If it isn’t, let’s ask Jesus to help us love like He does. The first step is realizing that we are greatly loved—in spite of our sins and shortcomings. Once we experience such amazing love, we’ll know what real love is and can extend that kind of love to others.

© 2008 by Johnnie Ann Burgess Gaskill. Scriptures quoted are from the New Living Translation.

Previously  published 2/6/2008

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