Focus: Is love a choice, or not?
1 John 4:7-8 (NKJV) Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
‘Love’ is something that people like us—those who have battled with depression and dependency—have probably not been entirely successful at. There are a number of failed relationships in my past—probably in yours, too. How do we deal with that? How do we look at this scripture and think that we could have stuck it out with that abusive spouse–or that we should have been able to face the awfulness of our circumstances or fears without wanting to medicate ourselves or run?
We make a lot of choices in life. We choose whether we will have a soft drink, juice, tea, coffee, or water–based on ‘what we feel like having’, or what food we will be drinking it with.
Our decision of what movie to watch might be made depending on what kind of mood we are in at the time. We even pick out our clothes for the day from an emotional standpoint, the weather, or what kind of an impression we want to make.
Most of us have been raised to think for ourselves, so that we have become pretty fickle about a lot of things. When someone asks if we want to go somewhere or do something, we carefully calculate whether we might find anything more interesting to do during that time—maybe with another person, or whether we might rather spend the time doing something else we would prefer to do, or if maybe we’d just like to not do anything…before we are willing to commit.
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Even going into a coffee shop, the choices are seemingly endless. Regular coffee or decaf? Sugar, cream, both, or neither? Hot coffee or iced? Coffee with flavored syrup or spiked with an extra shot of espresso?
Choices. I heard a message once, where it was stated that, ‘love is a choice’—meaning that when we are going through things that make loving someone, or people in general, a difficult thing to do—looking at love as something that you have decided in your heart to do—feel like it, or not–can help. That is an interesting concept and sounds attractive to our culture.
The scripture above lays out an awkward reality. It’s one of those passages that makes you squirm a little bit, if you are human. It’s one that makes us painfully aware that but for the grace of God we would all go to hell. The words are hard to digest because let’s face it, most of us have become tired of a relationship or two and have said, ‘that’s it’. Enough. Done with that.
According to this scripture, love is not a choice. These verses, from the way they are interpreted from the original text, state that God doesn’t just do things that are loving—He doesn’t just act out love. He IS love.
That makes a strong statement about whether we can choose to love, or not–if we say we are His, filled with Him, or if we claim we are living for Him.
How can we begin to love like He does? How can we love people who are unlovable in our mind–people who have failed us over and over? And, even when we try hard to show what love we have, how can we keep from sometimes missing the mark—or having our good intentions misinterpreted?
The choice we have to make then, is not whether we are going to love—but whether we are really His. If we are His, then we need to plead for His mercy and forgiveness for the times we have failed and ask Him to help us be so filled with Him that we would truly be transformed by the power of His love.
Declaration: My ability to love is being transformed by the power of God and His love living in me. I’m finding new strength.
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