THE SECRET OF LOVE

Let’s say you love coffee (or tea, or cocoa, or whatever … just go with me here) and I happen to sell the best coffee around. For $5, I will sell you one large (venti??) cup of coffee.

But, let’s say that you find the same coffee for $3 somewhere else, and their coffee is fresher and richer. Where would you go?

To the other shop, right?

I don’t blame you. This is a vendor relationship. You are loyal to me until you can get a better product for a better price somewhere else. This works great to encourage competition in a free economy, but it is terrible for relationships.

Love and Vendors

1 John 4:7-8 “Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 

It’s almost a universal rule, whether you believe in God or not, that love is the best way to live. The grind is our definition of love. To most people, love is a euphoric high, a feeling, or a state of bliss. Whether we are talking about marital love, friendship love, or family love, most of us associate love with a feeling, and if we don’t have the feeling, then we don’t love.

The problem with this is that our relationships turn into vendor relationships really fast. If my spouse no longer makes me feel loved or appreciated, and I happen to find appreciation somewhere else, then a vendor relationship says that I should go where I get the better product. Or, if my relationship with my spouse is difficult, but my relationship with another is easy and comfortable, then a vendor mindset says that I should go where I get the better product for the cheaper cost.

This isn’t only in marital relationships. Many people live by the rule that if family members cost me more than I am getting out of the relationship, then I cut them out of my life, or if friends don’t give me what I want, then I walk away.

But love is not something you get, but something you give. Love is not primarily a feeling, but an action. Love is not constantly looking for a better deal somewhere else, but is committed. Love is not primarily concerned about what I am getting, but about how I can help the other person.

Love Is Sacrificial Commitment To Someone Else’s Good

1 John 4:9-10 “God’s love was reveal among us in this way: God sent His One and Only Son into the world so that we might live through Him. Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be a propitiation for our sins.”

Meditate on these words. At the very least, we see 4 truths about love:

  1. Love commits. I cannot seek someone else’s good if I’m constantly looking for a better deal.
  2. Love sacrifices. Easy love is not love at all. Love proves it is genuine when it costs.
  3. Love initiates. This connects to sacrifice. It reaches out first.
  4. Love helps. It is not worried about my feelings, but about helping the other.

Some of you reading this have never been a part of a relationship like that. You’ve never seen someone sacrifice for you without expecting anything back. You’ve never been confident in the loyalty of someone else. You’ve only seen vendor relationships, where everyone is in it to get something out of it.

God wants more.

But isn’t that a dangerous way to live? Wouldn’t you get hurt all the time? What if the other person doesn’t love you back?

Rubber Band Chicken

Did you play rubber band chicken as a kid? I did. My friend and I would take a rubber band and stretch it out until one of three things happened: 1) It broke and snapped one of our fingers randomly. 2) My friend let go and snapped my finger. 3) I let go and snapped my friend’s finger.

In one sense, love is a giant game of rubber band chicken. If both parties are concerned about the other person, then neither snaps the other person and everyone is cared for. Love is like that. If both people are caring for the other person’s good, then both people have their needs met. It’s when one person worries about themselves that the other gets hurt.

This love is rare. No one loves like this. No one. Not consistently. Not with their life. And yet God commands us to love others like this.

Here’s the problem: if I live my life like God commands, but no one else does, will anyone ever love me and look out for my good? Why should I love if everyone treats me like a vendo?

Gospel

God not only set an example of love, but he also actually loved us. In fact, the Bible says that God works all things together for our good, for those who love God. In other words, for those who believe in the gospel, God is always working for our good.

  • He already made the greatest sacrifice possible. John 15:13 says, “No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends.”
  • He already promised that he is committed. Matthew 28:20b says, “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
  • And as I already stated, he works for our good. Romans 8:28 says, “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God.”

God sent his Son for our ultimate good. He doesn’t just fuzzy-good-feeling love us. He loved us so much that he forgive us for our selfishness toward him and others. He loves us so much that he wants to free us from disloyalty and laziness in our relationships. He commands love for our good and his glory, but we disobey him in vendor relationships.

But God can forgive.

Forgiveness might be free, but it isn’t cheap. It always costs. Our sin was a great offense to God and his perfect love. Without forgiveness, we would pay the offense ourselves under God’s punishment, but with forgiveness, Jesus pays the offense under God’s punishment for us. This is what “propitiation” means from our verses.

1 John 4:9-10 “God’s love was reveal among us in this way: God sent His One and Only Son into the world so that we might live through Him. Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be a propitiation for our sins.”

He wanted to bring us to himself, cleanse and free us from sin, and he sacrificed greatly to do that.

Forgiveness and love wait for anyone who believes that Jesus died on the cross for their sins and rose again.

And that is the secret of love and the gospel: believing that God loves us — is committed to us, sacrificed for us, and works for our good — frees us from worrying about ourselves. Instead, we are freed to focus on others. Because God sacrificed for us and works for our good, we don’t have to worry about ourselves in any relationship, and can instead sacrifice for others and work for their good. 

Without God, relationships like these aren’t possible. Love like this isn’t possible. We are doomed to vendor relationships, and worse, the rightful punishment for our vendor relationships.

But with God’s love, we are free to pursue a full life of sacrificial love for others.