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Refreshment in Refuge

    by Gina Burgess

What Is Love?
Date Posted: March 8, 2015

I love spinach. Yes, I truly do. Well, the more accurate truth is that I like spinach very much. I don’t actually love spinach.

Adages saturate our lives: “You can’t help whom you love,” and “Love blossoms in strange places.”

But I rarely hear the truth about love. Satan has built a huge cult about infatuation and lust calling it true love. Things like “You don’t have a choice about whom you love,” and “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” One word describes those lies. Poppycock!

Satan has no notion what true love is, so how can he define it? Why do we listen to his lies about it?

Simply because he tells us what we want to hear, and we rarely look past that searching for truth. You know why? The truth is, love is a lot of work. Paul does an excellent job of analyzing love in 1 Corinthians 13.

Shakespeare must have had a good understanding of the chapter Paul wrote about love. In A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the first act, he describes love. Helena says that love transforms things that are base and vile into form and dignity; that love looks with the mind, not with the eyes. Then she expounds that love is basically blind, but love so often seems to be a beguiled child because of the choices a person makes. In other words, love is a choice, but bad judgment can cause bad choices.

God designed love, and He gave us the immense capability to love. Love translates different languages and jumbled emotions into understanding. Speaking in tongues of men or angels is simply clanging cymbals if one is not speaking through love. Therefore, love is a filter which strains out the uglies.

Any kind of power given by God Almighty to do His works such as prophecy and perception, wisdom of mysteries, knowledge of the Bible as well as sciences diminishes into wisps of fog if one doesn’t have love as a magnifier to focus it to purpose. A magnifying glass can start a forest fire because it can focus the sun’s rays upon tinder, but it is harmless when moved away from the fuel.

Love focuses our energy fueled by God into His work that He prepared for us before He formed the world’s foundations. John tells us that God is love so we can understand that God has designed our work, He also fuels us with the necessary motivations to do the work; and He does this through love: His love for us and our love for Him. That is the strongest bond in the universe because He physically and spiritually morphed us by and through the Holy Spirit into new creations.

Jesus spoke of this fuel when in Samaria after speaking to the woman at the well. His disciples came back with food and urged Him to eat. He said, “I have food to eat which you know not.” John 4:32-42. How amazing! Jesus explains this food is doing the will of God and to finish His work. Then Jesus speaks of the fields being white for harvest.

It seems in this world filled with vanity that no one loves the unlovely, but Jesus did and testified how much when He stretched out His arms and died.

Paul tells us that without love, our ministry and works are not worth more than a drop of sweat which evaporates in the sun. Our works profit us nothing without love.

Love suffers long, or rather, it is patient. How parents know this as they both love and suffer the hormonal rages of their teenage sons and daughters. We love through the pinpricks to the heart that our young children inflict, and we love through the sword stabs to the soul that our teenagers wield as they struggle for independence years before their wings are dry enough to carry them to their own homes. Love is kind, without envy or malicious revenge. It is never puffed up.

[Love] Doesn't force itself on others, isn't always "me first," doesn't fly off the handle, doesn't keep score of the sins of others, 6 doesn't revel when others grovel, takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, 7 puts up with anything, trusts God always, always looks for the best, never looks back, but keeps going to the end. 8 Love never dies.1 Corinthians 13:5

Is it a formula for successful marriages? Oh, yes! And a formula for successful relationships of all kinds, successful businesses, successful political careers, successful CEOs and partnerships, successful leaders or all walks: businesses, churches, governments.

Is it possible to live lovely every second of every day for the rest of your life? Unfortunately, no. Not now.

The prophet Zephaniah wrote about how it will be when God’s judgment is complete:

In the end I will turn things around for the people. I'll give them a language undistorted, unpolluted, Words to address GOD in worship, and united to serve me with their shoulders to the wheel. They'll come from beyond the Ethiopian rivers, they'll come praying-- All my scattered, exiled people will come home with offerings for worship. Zephaniah 3:9-10

Until the flesh is completely dead, there will always be the struggle between the flesh and the spirit. There will always be differences between God’s children because of our different languages and understandings. We have the mind of Christ and we make a choice to live for Him, yet we will always be defending against the fiery darts of Satan. We’ll slip up every once in a while because we only know the physical side of the truth with glimpses of the spiritual side of love because God dwells within us and God is love, therefore our understanding increases the more we yield to Him. The way becomes easier the more we lean upon Him.

Because we can’t see clearly but only through a glass darkly, we must know that He is ever faithful and will always keep us because we are forever engraved in His palm.

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Biography Information:
Gina Burgess has taught Sunday School and Discipleship Training for almost three decades. (Don't tell her that makes her old.) She earned her Master's in Communication in 2013.

She is the author of several books including: When Christians Hurt Christians, The Crowns of the Believers and others available in online bookstores. She authors several columns, using her God-given talent to shine a light in a dark world. You can browse her blog at Refreshment In Refuge.

If you'd like to take a look at some Christian fiction and Christian non-fiction book reviews before the books hit the book store shelves, check out Gina's book reviews at Upon Reflection

Gina is a partner and COO of Common Sense Marketing Strategies, LLC that owns Authors Community and eBookChristian.com
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