Nine Misconceptions of Love
misconceptions of love

We want love. We need love. More than one thousand song titles contain the word love. We write books about it. Recite poems. We chase it and sing about it and fall for misconceptions of love. And no matter what we do, we can’t get enough.

Maybe that’s because we don’t understand what love really is. And there’s no time when misconceptions of love are more prevalent than Valentine’s Day.

1. We think of love as something that happens to us, but it’s an intentional decision.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another” (John 13:34 ESV).

2. We think romantic love must be young and sexy, but faithful love lingers long after our bodies begin to fail.
“So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth” (Malachi 2:15 ESV).

3. We think a loving marriage is all about our happiness, but the Bible tells us it’s a picture of the relationship between Christ and His Church.
“‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:31-32 ESV).

4. We think love is about saying nice things, but true love is seen as well as heard.
“Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth” (I John 3:18 ESV).

5. We think “love means never having to say you’re sorry,” when true love means we’re the first to apologize.
“With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2 ESV).

6. We think the goal of love is to make us feel special, when the goal of love is to put the other person’s needs before ours.
“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers” (I John 3:16 ESV).

7. We think love is our idea, but the Bible tells us God loved us first.
“We love because he first loved us” (I John 4:19 ESV).

8. We think we should only love those who love us, but we are to love even our enemies.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:43-44 ESV).

And the biggest misconception about love?

9. We think love is just an emotion, but the Bible tells us it is a Person.
“God is love” (I John 4:8 ESV).

The greatest expression of love occurred when God gave the life of His Son to restore us to Him through the sacrifice of Christ. Receiving His love enables us to give it to others.

Love is to be treasured, whether we’re celebrating the love of family, a spouse, or a good friend. And the most costly manifestation of love was first extended by God to us. Let’s lay aside the misconceptions and treat love as the precious gift it truly is.

What other misconceptions of love can you add to this list?

The Best Defense is NOT a Good Offense

Thirty-five years ago, I stopped a pickpocket. It happened on Nassau Street in lower Manhattan as I watched a man match his stride with a woman in front of him. When he was close enough, he reached into her side coat pocket from behind and lifted out her wallet.

She was clearly oblivious to what was happening, so I said something. Actually, I shouted something. It wasn’t very profound. More on the order of, “Hey, you! That’s not yours! Give it back!”

The victim stopped and turned around. The thief did the same. Then he called out something I’ll never forget. “Mind your own business!”

That’s right. He chastised me for interfering with his “business.”

I had forgotten about that incident until recently. Before I canceled my landline I received a steady stream of scammer calls. You know, the ones where someone calls from “Windows” and says they’ve seen “suspicious activity” on your computer…and then they offer to help.

The frequency of these calls was beyond annoying. No matter what I said or did, I couldn’t stop them. So I confess to having a little fun at their expense. If I couldn’t stop the calls, it gave me a tiny bit of satisfaction to cause them grief, too. So I might have pretended to be deaf and make them repeat themselves umpteen times before I hung up. Or I might have feigned cluelessness about owning a computer, so how could they have received notification of suspicious activity?

But one call stands out from all the others. The scammer call came (again) and I messed with the caller (again). This time his response left me speechless…and reminded me of the pickpocket from thirty-five years ago. When he realized I wasn’t falling for his line, he chastised me for wasting his time! He had called me for fraudulent purposes, intending to scam me, yet he had the nerve to say I’m wasting his time?

Clearly the pickpocket and the scammer both subscribed to the philosophy, “The best defense is a good offense.”

Then I thought of how I often respond when I’m under the Holy Spirit’s conviction. Yup. The best defense is a good offense.

  • Lord, I know I’m supposed to forgive, but what she did is so much worse!
  • Lord, if I don’t get this job, then it’s your fault if I can’t pay my bills.
  • Lord, I know you said I need to put others’ interests ahead of my own, but if you want me to glorify you, I need that opportunity.

Sigh. What I need is humility. I need to call my behavior what God calls it. Unforgiveness is sin. Pride is sin. Selfishness is sin. The best defense is not a good offense. The best defense is humility and surrender to the Holy Spirit. Because, in reality, I have no defense for my own for sin. I only have the payment made by Jesus Christ on my behalf.

My best defense is my only defense. His name is Jesus.

Filling the Silence and Drowning Out the Voice of God
Filling the Silence, Quiet

Why is quiet such a rare thing in our world?

Consider that:

  • when we get into our cars, one of the first things we do is turn on music.
  • when we come home to an empty house, how often is the television turned on for “background noise”?
  • if a group of people are silent for more than a few seconds, someone invariably feels the need to say something, even if it’s just to make small talk.
  • the word crickets has come to mean silence: the kind of silence heard on a country evening when, apart from the chirping of crickets, there are no other sounds.
  • speakers searching for a particular word often fill the gap with a drawn-out “um” rather than allow silence to hang in the air until the word occurs to them.

Why does silence make us uncomfortable?

The fear of silence actually has a name: sedatephobia, a diagnosis that has become prevalent in the past fifty years or so.

The rapid development of technology has added to this problem. Many people experience symptoms akin to withdrawal if they are separated from the external stimulation of their devices for even short periods of time.

Even among Christians, the concept of having a “quiet time” (reading the Bible and praying) is something we have to be intentional about or it just doesn’t happen.

Becoming comfortable with silence has been an adjustment for me this past year. Living with someone for four decades usually meant having a person home to talk to, or to listen to. Either way, a silent house was not the norm.

But the consequences of discomfort with silence reach beyond physical or psychological implications. In filling the silence, we’re drowning out the voice of God in our lives.

How many of us have said, “I wish I could hear God speak to me”? The truth is, He is speaking to us through the Bible. Still, His Holy Spirit also speaks to our spirit prompting us with conviction, comfort, thoughts, and ideas to provide guidance and direction. Of course, the Holy Spirit will never direct us contrary to His written Word.

But if we’re dependent on a wall of sound to dull our senses, why are we surprised that we cannot hear God speak to us? Remember the prophet Elijah in I Kings 19:11-13:

“And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave” (ESV).

Could it be our dependence on background noise has caused us to become obsessed with seeking God’s dramatic moves because He is now competing with all the other sounds and stimulation in our world? Are we convinced that if God is speaking, it must sound like a strong wind, an earthquake, or a roaring fire, and if it doesn’t, then it must not be God?

Instead of filling the silence, what would happen if we intentionally built periods of silence into our day? Not nap times, but rather simply quiet times without external stimulation. Such times when it will become easier for us to hear and recognize God’s “low whisper,” or as other translations phrase it, “still, small voice” or “gentle blowing.”

Even better, what would happen if we were to train our children to have a quiet time in their day? A time when they sit still and think about what God has done for them. The children’s program in Bible Study Fellowship International (BSF) actually incorporates such a quiet time as preschoolers are taught a Bible lesson, then spend a few minutes simply lying down and thinking about what they’ve learned.

If we encouraged this practice in our homes, perhaps when they grow to adulthood, children wouldn’t be uncomfortable with silence. Instead, those “crickets” might help them recognize God’s gentle whisper guiding them through life.

What do you think? Are you filling the silence or are there quiet times in your daily routine? Is it time to begin building those quiet spaces today?

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