Jesus tells us that the greatest commandment is "‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’"
Love isn't just a feeling. It's not just romance, flowers, chocolates, and kisses (not that those aren't nice). Love is action. Love is doing.
Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 13, "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."
Love is strong and fierce. And our love is bolstered when we know that we are loved first by God.
We are called to love ourselves and then love our neighbors. We each have some kind of ministry, some way to serve our community or family or friends. Reaching out to serve other people in love is challenging and rewarding, but it comes with risk. When we open ourselves up to other people, we can get hurt.
This happened to me and Patrick recently. We opened ourselves to loving someone and helping them. It was a good time for everyone involved, but now it's over. The person left us abruptly. Our hearts are hurting. We are grieving.
Love is strong and fierce, but it is also sweet and tender. When we love someone, we know that we can get ourselves hurt. It's not a risk-free venture.
Was it worth it? Yes. Everyone grew in the process. We can't say that it was successful overall, but we believe God is working out some good. And we continue to love.
When love is hard, still put the effort in. Let your love be strong and tender at the same time. Be persistent in your love. You may not be happy with the outcome, but love will win in the end.