Oct 22, 2011

Our warped definition of love

(partly to Tim)

I always used to think, you know how the Bible and everyone always tell us to love God, love God, love God, but how can you force a feeling? Love is a feeling and you can't make yourself feel something.

But love isn't just a feeling. It's a behaviour. It's about doing things in people's best interests, wanting the best for them, sacrificing, giving. That's loving.
Loving with actions even when you don't feel like it is the highest form of love.

Offering to come all the way to my house far far away to help me out with something small because he knows I need it. Going all the way to the other end of Singapore to hear a crying friend out. A whole cell group's collective effort to help her retrieve her phone and get compensation for the broken SIM card. Texting me every day to make sure I'm okay, help me heal. Sacrificing a forty-minute break to hold me while I cry. Willingly rejecting a free lunch to talk me out of my pain.

Much more than a feeling, love is a behaviour. That's why we can choose to love. That's why the Bible can command us to love. You can't force a feeling but you can choose to carry out acts of love. You can choose to give thanks to the One whom you know has given you the strength and peace you needed when you asked for it. You can choose to give in love.

Something really interesting:
1 Corinthians 13, we all know, is all about love.

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud...
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Etc etc etc. It all sounds like a crazy, far-fetched, unattainable form of love.

But in the King James Version of the Bible, which is the first English-translated version of the Bible during the reign of James I (yup Renaissance stuff, this all started when I was looking through the Lit Compendium), all the instances of the word 'love' you find in today's Bible versions was in fact 'charity'.

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth(wants) not itself, is not puffed up...
And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

The Bible was translated from Greek, and apparently 'agape' is translated into both 'charity' and 'love' in the KJV Bible. So it's so evident that charity and love are very closely linked. In today's definition of the two words, they're less similar: charity is giving, and love is...loving. You can do one without the other.

But the concept here is sacrificial love, love beyond self, love beyond passionate feeling. Giving out of love - giving because you love. Love for the poor, the homeless, people you don't know and people most of us don't want to have to deal with. It's not just about giving out of pity.

Pretty interesting.

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