|Good morning everyone,|
Our theme for this month: “Great thoughts from great Christians”
Our Bible verse for today: “This is my command: Love one another as I have loved you.” John 15:12 (CSB)
Our thought for today: “Love is often a decision not a feeling ”
All this month we’ve been considering great thoughts from great Christians and in every case so far, I’ve been able to attribute that great thought to an identifiable great Christian. Not so this morning. This morning I want to share with you what I consider to be a great thought about the nature of love, but I cannot identify exactly who said it or where I got it from. I’ve been holding onto this thought – preaching it, teaching it, and trying to live by it, for probably close to thirty years, but I cannot remember where I got it from. Perhaps it’s a fusion of thoughts from different authors, teachers and preachers on the subject. In any case, here it is:
“Love is often a decision to act rather than an emotion you feel. It is an action, based on a decision, born of obedience.”
In other words, you can act in love towards someone even if you don’t actually feel love for that person. That’s essentially what Jesus was teaching in John 15:12. In that verse He “commanded” that we love one another. But if love is just a feeling or an emotion, how can it be commanded? Can the feeling be manufactured on demand? Can it be generated by simply flipping an emotional switch like turning on a light? The answer, of course, is “no”. Either you feel love or you don’t. You can’t force a feeling.
But you can force an action. You can decide to do something, and then go and do it whether you want to or not and whether you feel like it or not. You can act in love even if you don’t feel love.
I read a story once about a woman who had been brutally raped. The man who did it to her was caught, convicted, and sentenced to a long term in prison. But the memory of that traumatic event haunted the woman for years. It colored her personality in dark ways, it caused her to distrust other people, and it made her depressed and angry. Finally, she came to faith in Christ and discovered healing and peace in Jesus. Eventually, as a final act of recovery, she went to the prison and faced the man who had raped her. She said to him, “I forgive you. What you did to me was wrong; you caused me terrible pain, and I’m glad you are being punished for it; but in the name of my Lord Jesus Christ, I forgive you.”
Later, as she was describing that encounter, she said, “It was the last thing in the world I wanted to do. I was physically sick at the thought of seeing him again. On an emotional level, I was afraid of him; I was repulsed by him, and – I have to be honest, I hated him. But my feelings were not the issue. I knew that what God wanted was my obedience. He wanted me to love that man with my will and with my words, even though in my emotions I couldn’t stand the sight of him.”
Jesus calls us to act in love towards others even if we don’t feel love for them in that moment. Love is often a decision to act rather than an emotion you feel.
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