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Expressing True Love

With Valentine’s Day now behind us, I wonder how you expressed your love to those you love? A card with flowers and chocolate seems to be the go-to gift for the holiday. If you opted for these, you were not alone. Valentine’s Day has the greatest holiday flower sales and is third in chocolate sales behind Easter and Christmas.

 

However you expressed your love, one of the “true love” quotes from Princess Bride might resonate with you. Perhaps Westley’s observation, “Death cannot stop true love. All it can do is delay it for a while.” Or Miracle Max’s thought, “True love is the greatest thing in the world, except for a nice MLT, mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwich when the mutton is nice and lean, and the tomato is ripe” might be your favorite.

 

Regardless of if you are a romantic like Westley or a pragmatist like Miracle Max, true love is best defined in Christ. For example, consider what Jesus tells us, “The greatest love people can show is to die for their friends.” (John 15:13) When we are loved with such extravagant, pure love, we will naturally desire to love them in return.

 

We may ask, “How can I respond to the love Jesus has shown me?” Jesus gives us an answer in his words to the disciples, “If you love me, you will keep my commands.” (John 14:15) Jesus is not saying that obeying his commandments is the same thing as love, however knowing what God has done for us “they will believe and obey him, bringing glory to his name.” (Romans 1:5)

 

Jon Bloom offers thoughts on how love for Christ is manifested in obedience. “Now, love, faith, and obedience are not the same things. Love is our cherishing or treasuring Christ, faith is our trusting Christ, and obedience is our doing what Christ says. The essence of each is different. Bad things, like dead orthodoxy and legalism, happen when we make them the same thing.”

 

So, how is our love for God to be lived out? Paul says, “The purpose of my instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith.” (1 Timothy 1:5) True love flows out of a pure heart.

 

A less than pure example would be if I begrudgingly brought my wife flowers on Valentine’s Day? My actions reveal that I do not understand love. Love is more than obligatory flowers and chocolate and dinner; love is best expressed when words, feelings and actions are unified. The desire behind my actions communicate either a love of self or a love of another.

 

True love is selfless. The story of Princess Bride is about how Westley’s selfless love directs his journey. It not only leads him to Buttercup but teaches him lessons that prove useful in reclaiming his beloved. While our journey for true love is unlikely to include duels and cross-country adventures, it is nonetheless epic.

 

We are familiar with stories of true love where people deny themselves for the sake of another. It is seen in those who care for a loved one in their illness; in those who sit with them as they take their final breath. It is seen in those who donate a liver or kidney for another’s wellbeing – it may even be a stranger to whom they show selfless love.

 

Another quote from Westley may help, “This is true love. You think this happens every day?” The point is that true love is not ordinary or easy; true love requires sacrifice. True love is not expressed in my regifting something that I do not want; true love makes a sacrifice to please another.

 

True love is expressed in both action and words. Washing the dishes can be a more powerful expression of love than a box of chocolate, and washing the dishes everyday testifies of a love greater than a “one and done” attitude. In Christ’s obedience we see what true love looks like, God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. (Romans 5:8)

 

To know the Lord, to show Him our love, to walk in true love, we must listen to His voice. How do we do this? I like the Message’s answer paraphrasing 1 Samuel 15:22, “Do you think all God wants are sacrifices— empty rituals just for show? He wants you to listen to him! Plain listening is the thing, not staging a lavish religious production.”

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