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Pointers along the way #166

The enemy of love
- Jacob Ninan

Usually, when a boy and girl "fall in love", they are looking for something from the other. Generally speaking, for the boy it is sexual attraction and for the girl it is a desire for affection and security. In a society with loose morals, the girl gives her body thinking that she will gain affection from the boy, and the boy shows affection looking for her body. They both fool each other thinking that they are 'in love'! Romantic songs proclaim, "I can't live without you" because each one is looking for the other to fulfill some need in their own lives. Of course this is not love. It is a wolf in sheep's clothing, selfishness dressed up as love.

When God loves us, He demonstrates it through giving. His supreme act of love was when He gave His Son Jesus to die in our place so that we could be saved (Jn.3:16). And now that we have become His children through faith, He works in us and around us to do good for us (Ro.8:28;Php.2:13). His kind of love is self-giving and not self-seeking.

The reason why our kind of love fails is that we keep expecting to receive from the ones we 'love', instead of learning to give. Even in marriages where the couples have been deeply in 'love' before they got married, relationships fail as the wolves slowly shed away their sheep's clothing. When selfishness begins to come out into the open and each of the couples finds that the other one is not meeting their needs, 'love' fails, and perhaps hatred begins to take its place.

Real love is something we have to learn and grow into. It takes time, perseverance and self-denial. It is not something we can 'fall into' or experience on 'first sight'. Even marriages which begin with sudden infatuation have to grow into self-denying love if they have to survive. Instead of looking for something for ourselves from the others, we have to learn to value the others for themselves and keep desiring to do something for them. 'Expectations' and 'demands', and 'self-interests' are the enemies of love.

God's love is genuinely interested in our welfare (Je.29:11). He won't withhold anything good from us, even when He has to deny Himself and suffer for it (Ro.8:32). He wants to pour this love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit (Ro.5:5). But we cannot have this love in us if we are not willing to deny ourselves. Selfishness is the enemy of love (1Co.13:5). When we are acting out of selfishness we cannot make way for love.

'Denying ourselves' does not mean that we ignore our own needs, suppress or repress them. That would be unrealistic and unhealthy. But what we need to do is to put the others first (Php.2:3 NASB). When we love the others, and demonstrate this love in self-denying ways, that will prompt them to love us too.

It may happen in this sin-filled world that people continue to be selfish even when we show them true love. That calls for a higher form of self-denial. But let that also not stop us from loving them.