If you let our culture define love, then love is a feeling—and a selfish feeling at that. Love is essentially positive feelings towards someone because they give you something or make you feel something special. We love people when they are nice to us and treat us right, but, when they stop treating us right, we stop loving them.
This is childish. Every parent knows the pain of having to punish their child, only to hear the child yell or cry out, “I don’t love you!” It always hurts to hear this, but the child doesn’t really mean it. In his or her immature understanding of love, they believe that it is just a feeling that we experience when someone treats us right, and that we lose when they mistreat us. Some people never grow out of that childish understanding.
In today’s Scripture reading, Shechem will commit the horrible crime of raping Dinah. Then, because Shechem enjoyed his evil act so much, he will feel like he is in love with her!
Please read Genesis 34:1-4.
There are five verbs used in this passage to describe Shechem’s actions towards Dinah, and they are easily divided up into two groups: first he “seized her,” “lay with her,” and “humiliated her, then he “loved” her and “spoke tenderly to her.” This feeling of ‘love’ that Shechem experienced was so strong that he asked his father to make Dinah his wife so that he could experience this feeling of ‘love’ for even longer.
But did Shechem really love Dinah? Of course not! Love is not a feeling; love is an action. Shechem’s actions demonstrated how little he actually loved Dinah. He didn’t care about her. If he did, then he never would have raped her! Shechem just cared about the way that she made him feel. That’s what he called “love.”
Unfortunately, many people today still think that this is “love”: when someone treats you special and gives you something valuable, you think you love them. But that is not the measure of true love. Real love is measured by the actions that you take when the object of your love seems unlovely. Real love is demonstrated when you seek the pleasure of your beloved above your own. Real love is found when you would rather serve her than have her serve you.
For most men out there, real love is demonstrated when they take the initiative to meet their wife’s love language: do her household chores, buy her an unexpected gift, or leave little notes around the house encouraging her with all the things you love about her. Do this without expecting anything in return.
For most women out there, real love is demonstrated when you take the initiative to meet your husband’s love language: engage him with physical touches, compliment him regarding things that you genuinely respect about him, or learn how to do some activity or hobby that he has mentioned wanting to do together. Do this without expecting him to reciprocate.
These actions are only acts of love when you do them because your spouse wants them. Whether you feel loved your not, you demonstrate your love to your spouse through your actions. Love isn’t a feeling, it’s an action.
Of course, the greatest act of love was performed when Jesus Christ died on our behalf. He went to the cross knowing full well how deeply we would reject Him, hate Him, rebel against Him, and want nothing to do with Him. He selflessly died in our place even though He certainly didn’t feel loved by us.
When you compare the love that Jesus demonstrated to the love that Shechem felt, you will be amazed that anyone would define love as a feeling. While Shechem raped an innocent young women and felt a cultural love, Jesus demonstrated His love by selflessly dying for His bride so that He could make her holy. That’s the difference between biblical love and cultural love. Which one do you want to experience? If you want biblical love, then demonstrate biblical love to your spouse.
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