Love is not a feeling. Love is an action. An old Christian music group called DCTalk used to sing the song, “Love is a VERB.” It’s a fantastic reminder for us, especially during the emotionally charged holiday season that love is about DOING, not feeling.
Think of the traditional wedding vows: For richer, for poorer; in sickness, and in health. Sometimes you won’t feel like loving someone. Do it anyway. This kind of love, the active kind of love, is the love that our world needs more than anything else. Your family doesn’t need you to love them when it feels right. They need you to love them most when it doesn’t feel good. That’s when you get to see someone’s true level of love, when they do great things even when it doesn’t feel good to do them.
Here are a couple of examples from the Christmas account. Joseph loved Mary. There had to be some sense of bad feelings that the girl he was engaged to was now pregnant by somebody else. Guys are jealous by nature, but instead of divorcing her, he obeyed God and stayed by her side. He put aside his own wants for hers. Mary loved Jesus. Any mom that cares for a young baby knows the reality that love is an action, not a feeling. There are some nights when the baby is crying and you don’t know why that you don’t feel like getting up, but you do it anyway. Love happens even when it doesn’t feel good. In fact, some of the best signs of love are things done in the midst of very tough situations.
This past weekend I spent a few days with my parents who are staying at an American Cancer Society Lodge called the Hope Lodge in Hershey, PA. My mom is undergoing treatment for cancer, and my dad is right by her side making meals, bringing her drinks, washing out her puke bucket, etc. That’s love. He doesn’t always feel like doing it, but that doesn’t mean he’s not doing it. Love is about the action of serving another, and at its greatest level is about laying down one’s life for another. The Hope Lodge is filled with people loving their family and friends by caring for them in dark times. (On a side note, you can see if there is a Hope Lodge near you, or another kind of facility like it where people stay during extensive medical treatments, and see how you might serve them)
John said it best, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.” The sacrifice of Jesus is the greatest act of love. He gave us his life. His entrance into this world on Christmas began that labor of love as he served us each day. Did he always feel like giving himself as the sacrifice? (See the Garden of Gethsemane prayer) He did it anyway. Love isn’t a feeling. Love is an action. This Christmas remember that it’s not a touchy feely story, but the history of tough action in the face of challenging times. Then, go love somebody. You might not feel like it right away, but do it anyway. Love somebody like you’ve been loved by Jesus!
Dear Jesus, you love me! Thank you for doing great things for me. Help me do things for others. Amen.