Real Love

“For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.”
Psalm 100:5 (NIV)

For several years, my father-in-law was a very important part of my life. He passed away in August of 2020. I called him “Papa” – I loved him and he loved me. The love he showed made a real difference in my life.

Papa believed in me. He celebrated my talents and accomplishments and often told me he was proud of me. I can still hear his voice saying, “I’m proud of you, son.” He never criticized me or spoke a negative word to me, not once, and not even in jest. He always made time for me even though he was busy pastoring his church in Mexico. He listened without judgment and gave his full attention. He let me express how I feel and then offered wise counsel. His love was real.

Real love heals the soul. Love never fails. It endures forever. Love is a gift that keeps giving for eternity. A tiny seed of love sewn will sprout and grow and become a large tree which will give shelter like the tree of life that never dies. When we give love without reservation and without conditions, it has the power to transform. Love can transform the ugly into the beautiful, instill confidence in the insecure, provide a family for the lonely, and heal the broken soul.

Jesus spent only a few years with his disciples, but he gave them everything they needed to succeed. His love changed their lives and had a multiplying effect which we experience to this day. He set them up for success and then he left. Although he was gone in the body, as promised, he did not leave them as orphans (see John 14:18). He came to them in the power of His Spirit and placed his very Spirit inside each of them. He left behind his Spirit of love.

Although painful to his disciples, it was better for them that he left because they could do more with his Spirit in them than they could do with him physically present. It was time for the teacher to trust the students to carry on his work. If he had stayed, people may have been drawn to the physical Jesus but now they are drawn to the living, resurrected Christ who is alive in each one of us.

Even though I had a short number of years with Papa, his love changed my life. And I believe that the impartation of his spirit in my life lives on in me and his children, grandchildren and spiritual children in the Lord. Only heaven knows the full impact of his love.

Love is a gift that keeps giving for eternity. A tiny seed of love sewn will sprout and grow and become a large tree which will give shelter like the tree of life that never dies.

I have been blessed to be a part of a few good churches and I’m grateful for the pastors I’ve had in my life. Sometimes pastors are not able to devote personal time to each individual in the congregation perhaps as much as they would like to due to the limited physical capacity. Thankfully, God did not set up the church for the leaders to do all the work. He set up the church for the leaders to equip disciples to do the work. Jesus touched many people with his love, and he taught many people, but he personally mentored only a small group of disciples. This is the pattern for us to follow. It is our job as the church to grow in real love and multiply that love in the hearts of others.

How can we show real love? The Bible talks about the qualities of love in I Corinthians 13 – love is patient, kind and so on. Our love will grow in measure to our commitment to Christ and His Word, as we abide in Him. Apart from abiding in Him, we cannot demonstrate real love. We grow in love as we grow in Him and develop His fruit in our lives. It takes time.

Not everyone we meet or reach out to will be a willing recipient of the love we seek to show. But we must keep on loving. I’ve tried to help some people who didn’t seem to want my help. I’ve been rejected when I’ve tried to share Christ with others. What I’ve endeavored to do is keep my heart open and move on. There are others who are waiting for the love God has called me to give.

We can love in our service, by helping others. We love in words of truth, encouragement and faith. We love by listening, love with counsel, loving by affirmation. We can love by giving our trust, love by believing in others. We can love with our prayers and love with our affection. We can love by building up and not criticizing, judging or being rude. We can love by the mercy and forgiveness we give. Love is demonstrated both by what we do and what we refrain from doing.

Jesus loved us while we were yet sinners, when he died for us on the cross. He elevated us from our lowly state to a state of honor and dignity in his kingdom. He exalted us to a privileged position in his family. I believe Jesus was able to love this way because:

  1. He was not seeking honor for himself;
  2. He was confident and secure in the love of His Father; and
  3. He was never seeking to please Himself but only to please the Father.

His love was real love. For us to grow in this kind of love, we have to grow in our relationship with God. It takes a real commitment to grow in real love.

When I was a kid, we often watched a movie called Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang. It’s the story of a magical flying automobile. There’s a scene where the heroine acts like a doll singing on a music box. She moves her arms and body robotically, singing:

What do you see? You people gazing at me
You see a doll on music box that’s wound by a key
How can you tell, I’m under spell, I’m waiting for love’s first kiss

You cannot see, how much I long to be free
Turning around on this music box that’s wound by a key
While I’m turning around and around…

Many people are like this lady – they are acting out according to their programming which is rooted in painful experiences of life. They are under the spell of the enemy because of pain, waiting for love’s true kiss. The power of real love breaks Satan’s spell and sets them free to be their true selves created in the image of God. That’s the real love my Papa showed me. That’s the real love God has called us to give.

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