“Love is not a feeling, it’s a choice.”
The first time I heard that saying was at a Tim Hawkins’s show at a church in California. In a night full of unstoppable laughter, Tim was able to make each and every person in that 3000 seated church think about their walk with Christ. I don’t know if he came up with this quote or if he heard it from someone else, but it really spoke to me.
How many times have I weighed the quality of my relationship with Christ based on what I was feeling in the moment? How many times have I felt like relationships were over with my brothers and sisters in Christ because I felt nothing for them? Let me tell you the answer: countless times. Our world is so caught up on feelings and emotions that we let them dictate our lives. Not only are overpowering emotions fueled by my sinful nature, but they have been conditioned by my world to take the lead in fleeting moments.
Movies propagate that love is only made up of butterflies and smiles and that to make it last forever, you have to try really hard to muster up those feelings. If you can’t, it’s over. No more marriage, friendships, or relationships. Divorce is okay if neither side “loves” each other anymore. Affairs are encouraged by the wingman or girl gang when a spouse isn’t treating one right. Love is diminished to a fleeting feeling, not fueled by anything of substance or length.
How many times have I weighed the quality of my relationship with Christ based on what I was feeling in the moment?
I catch myself using the world’s standards of love to evaluate my relationship with Christ all the time. When I’m in the dumps and just don’t “feel” like praying, “Oh, I guess my relationship has gone to a pit of darkness. Now I’ve got to try really hard myself to get out of his pit and back to Christ.” Even in moments of pure weakness, I questioned my salvation. I let my feelings determine my love for Christ.
True love doesn’t use feelings as its foundation. My sinful nature causes my emotions to be so unstable that I am miserable when trying to live my life on my own. In order for me to find and have true love, I have to rely on someone else who knows the meaning of true love. I must make a choice to lean on He who is love. And no He isn’t some Disney Prince Charming that I sing a duet with at the end of a movie. He is a tangible, living person who encapsulates love. His name is Jesus.
My love is fleeting, His love is constant. My love is unstable, His love is pure. Even with all the disgusting qualities within me, Jesus Christ loves me. He CHOSE me as His own child and died for me, EVEN when I hated Him. He CHOSE to love me, and I must CHOOSE to lean on Him. I can’t conjure up feelings, I must rely on Christ to strengthen my love and make it everlasting.
Leaning on Christ
God commands us to love one another and our enemies. We must choose to obey His commands, whether or not we feel like it (1 John 3:16-23). I’ve had times where brothers and sisters in Christ have hurt me deeply. I’m wounded, offended and feel nothing but anger and bitterness. I feel NOTHING of love. Instead of leaning on my emotions in those times, I choose to lean on Christ and let His love guide mine. I choose to obey Christ and abandon my selfish motives and feelings that lead me away from loving others. Those brothers and sisters become dear to me and I look at them through Christ’s eyes. Christ died for them as well as me. He forgives me and I must forgive them.
I have faith in Christ and realize that He will help me to obey His command to love. Just like Hebrews 11:8 says that by faith Abraham was able to obey God, by faith we can love because we can trust that God will change our hearts and give us a heart like His to love. All we have to do is ask Him, and He will help us to love (Mark 11:24, Luke 11:9 , John 14:14, John 15:7).
“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”
Love is so much more than what the world has set before us. It’s none of the deceitful love where you repeat Jesus’ name over and over again in worship or prayer; It’s not trying to conjure up a feeling that is not even remotely close to love. Love can only be achieved through dependence on Christ, Christ who CHOSE us. Therefore, we must make the decision every day of our lives to CHOOSE to lean on Christ and let him guide our hearts. Once you’ve made that decision, loving your spouse, friend, family member, or even strangers, will be so much easier and so much more valuable than a mere, perishable feeling.
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