‘You must love.’ Matthew 22:37 NLT
When a lawyer asked Jesus what the greatest commandment was, He replied that he must love God, others, and himself (see Matthew 22:37–39). Observe that He said, ‘You must love.’ This tells you a lot about the true nature and behaviour of love. If love can be commanded, then it can’t be only emotional, or a matter of feelings. Genuine love is much more than feelings; it’s a matter of the will. That’s why Jesus could command us to express it. It’s a commandment followed by a commitment. Although feelings are important, true love functions regardless of how you feel.
In his book The Fred Factor Mark Sanborn writes: ‘I learned a long time ago that liking people and loving them are different. Liking someone is an emotional response. Unlike love, “like” is a feeling. The tough part is that we can’t control our emotions. We can control how we choose to express those emotions but not the feelings themselves. A healthy person can choose to be angry and still choose to act lovingly… A feeling is a reaction. Maybe that’s one reason Jesus didn’t say, “Like your enemies.” He knew that liking or not liking someone was not always in our immediate control… I have learned that love is, among other things, an action. I can love someone I don’t necessarily like. I can do something or act towards that person in a certain way because I know it is the right thing to do even if I don’t feel warm and fuzzy doing it.’
And here’s the thing: when you act lovingly towards another person, your emotions begin to line up with your actions. Go ahead, try it and see!
SoulFood: Gen 17–19, Luke 1:67–80, Ps 42:6–11, Pro 1:28–31
The Word for Today is authored by Bob and Debby Gass and published under licence from UCB International Copyright 2023