The world we live in presents to us so many ways to define the word "love." Most of them, unfortunately, are pretty self-serving. Whether it be the euphoric feeling experienced whenever the other person is nearby or the soft and reassuring feeling of safety and contentment, the expectation is that "love" feels good…pretty much all the time. And when that sweet and satisfying feeling fades – or when the other person no longer deserves your love – you can, quite justifiably, walk away.

In the Bible, however (which is the foundation for my "Fruits of the Spirit" series), love isn't centered around feeling good. Instead, real love is sacrifice, servanthood, and selflessness.

John 15:13 tells us that great love sacrifices its own desires for the benefit of another person – and that that act of sacrificial love will cost you something. 1 Corinthians 13:8 tells us that, among other things, "love never fails." That means real love keeps serving and giving to others even when it's exhausted. 1 Peter 4:8 reminds us that "love covers a multitude of sins." True love makes the hard choice to forgive even when it has been wronged.

loveThe figures in my drawing of "Love" are, first of all, on their knees. This is a posture of humility, of putting away one's ego, of choosing to shift the focus away from self. Second, they have their hands extended toward one another. They are giving, helping, and serving the other, rather than taking or demanding. 

In my life now, as a wife and a mother, I'm finding there have never before been greater challenges to my definition, understanding, and practice of love. I have to give up "rights" that I was certain were mine in order to love them more sacrificially. I am physically and emotionally spent, yet love persuades me to keep giving of myself in order to love them for a few more hours of the day. They push my buttons, annoy or irritate me, or don't do what they promised to do, and love compels me to forgive, to let go of the offense and think of them before myself.

Or…I push their buttons, I snap irritably when I'm tired, I create unreasonable expectations, I break my promises, or I wound them in a deeper way than I can even hope to repair. And instead of walking away, they choose to forgive me in a beautiful example of true love.  

My hope is that the next time you hear the word "love," the figures in this drawing will come to mind – and that as you hunger for a deeper love in your own life, you'll begin looking for ways to give it to someone else instead of just receiving it for yourself.

Galatians 5:22-23 – "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law."

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