The Narrow view on love
“Infantile love follows the principle: “I love because I am loved.”
Mature love follows the principle: “I am loved because I love.”
Immature love says: “I love you because I need you.”
Mature love says: “I need you because I love you.”
― Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving
To love is to risk being hurt. No one loves unreservedly without the risk of being hurt. God has loved to the point of death, yet though unfailing, his love has not produced sincere love in the objects of His love, from this, we also learn that the act of love is an act of faith, he who loves has no guarantee that his love will be reciprocated. Clearly, to love and to be loved is a choice, none is so hopeless that they cannot choose to reject loving or receiving love. In His foreknowledge, God loved, though risking being rejected and yet, being well aware of it. Love is careless but not ignorant- careless because it risks all, not ignorant because it’s not blind. Borrowing from Erich Fromm in his fine work The art of loving:
love means to commit oneself without guarantee, to give oneself completely in the hope that our love will produce love in the loved person. Love is an act of faith, and whoever is of little faith is of little love”.
It must, therefore, be noted that to love is not a matter of convenience or being in favorable circumstances (to exercise it), rather it is a calculated choice that stands by itself though the consequences may be the falling of the heavens. But to love unreservedly is true freedom. No love is love that holds back. Love demands the principle of being other-centered, he who loves thinks others better than himself(sic). It is true, love is harmful to self, it requires the giving of self for the loved object. God is eternal, love is His nature, therefore love is eternal. It transcends time, created beings and even death itself. “for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned”. ( — SongofSolomon 8:7 ) If there were such a thing as strong in its ability to measure destruction as death, love would still transcend and remain stronger than it. Death is the strongest evidence of sin and the strongest expression of destruction yet love is as strong as death- that is, love will go through death if need be. love demands the willingness to die for the object to which it is expressed. No measurement to it, if a man were to give all he has, love would still break forth as more powerful and strong than all the materialistic things a man may possess. A human being may possess feelings of love towards another, but such is not the true nature of love if such party aims to leave at the absence of such feelings that drew them in the first place. Though there may be feelings, true love is an ever-fixed principle that changes not like the weather would, hot today and cold tomorrow. Love is love whether the wind blows or the sun is scorching, whether there be turmoil and natural disasters or peace reign in the land of the living. Those who are controlled by emotions and feelings have not experienced the true nature of the virtue but have had rays of the virtue itself. From the Art of Loving, Erich Fromm writes:
Love is a decision, it is a judgment, it is a promise. If love were only a feeling, there would be no basis for the promise to love each other forever. A feeling comes and it may go. How can I judge that it will stay forever, when my act does not involve judgment and decision.
If one is unwilling to give their lives for the sake of the other, such has no love. In the words of the master, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” The desire to give one’s life for the loved object is not a matter of convenience rather a willingness to see the other party happy even at one’s very expense.
Those who love are most happy when their beloved is happy, hence love is exposed to all possible pain to produce happiness in the loved being. A mother may work all her life and die, but she dies in peace if all her efforts have led to the success of her children. It is a well-known principle, the more one spends what they have, the more they run out. Love defies natural laws, the more given, the more gained- that is, no man has ever become poor by giving out love. In the Pilgrims progress, John Banyan notes, “A man there was, though some did count him mad, the more he cast away the more he had”. He who keeps his riches for fear of spending and running out, will eventually run out of all including what he never had, but he loses nothing if he were to give love, so a donation may be a loss but that which is given in love is gain- joy, peace, Grace, qualities that money cannot buy. The opposite is true, that which opposes love is not hatred but selfishness, to gain and to keep to self is death. No real joy can be produced from a heart that cherishes itself. To the Philippians, Paul writes “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves”. To esteem others better than self is not to disregard self, it is not an act of self-punishment, it is an act of love. Love forgets self for the exaltation of another but selfishness reign at the expense of others, sadly at its very own destruction. No true happiness can be found in the life that is lived for self. Those who seek to leave their inheritance or distribute their wealth through trusts realize that though one may have it all, one loses all if they have none to share with. Relevant remain the words of Jesus, “what shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”
When truth does not resonate with our experience it often sounds ridiculous or even a lie. The nature of truth is independent of our experience or how we feel. Others have often felt the “absence” of God when the going is tough. But the feeling is not the reflection of the situation. The feeling is phenomenological, in other words, it is not how it is but only how it feels like. Same with love, our love or the lack thereof does not do away with the existence of the virtue. God is true and so is love. All ought to search and find the heavenly planted gift in their hearts. Consider these matters, you will eventually realize that you have far more to lose in selfishness, impatience, bitterness, and jealousy. Those who love are most free.
Some two thousand years ago, a miracle happened when God sent a son, “born of a woman, born under the law”. Jesus was much a human being like me and you, subject to the same temptations, pain, problems, and troubles that you and I face. He had emotions when his friend died he wept. Children would come to him, and the best of his affections would be expressed to them. Jesus had 12 disciples whom he dearly loved. By his very hand, they were selected. These men all had different backgrounds and experiences in life. Jesus loved them as dear brothers, and for nearly four years he committed to teaching them all of the heavenly teachings that would equip them to transform the world through the gospel. Above every other lesson, Jesus sought the disciples to know that love was and still is the foundation of heaven. That without love, no man would have a relationship with God. The best teaching that Jesus gave the disciples, was the demonstration of love. We here understand that misconceptions on love are no new thing. It was not well understood two thousand years ago, and certainly even now, very few understand what it means to love. In his last meeting with the disciples, in what is commonly known as the Lord’s supper, Jesus washed the disciples’ feet and fed them. He then went and lengthily prayed for them. At the climax events of His life leading to the cross, Jesus was approached by the soldiers who were to take him for his prosecution. It was one of his friends who had betrayed him with a kiss and sold him for 30 pieces of silver. When they were nailing him to the cross, all of his disciples had run away for their protection. When one of the disciples was asked if he was affiliated to Jesus, he denied and even went on to curse. All denied Jesus, and some went to their previous occupation. They had betrayed, rejected, and denied him at the very time they needed him. Strikingly, when Jesus rose from the dead, one of the very first things he did was to pursue those who had rejected his love. Not only did he reveal his desire to be with them again, but he assured them of his never-failing love. It is such an extraordinary thought that even when the man Jesus had evidence of not being wanted, his love pursued those who were lost. Jesus is undoubtedly a great example of love and how to love.