By Bradley E. Lacey
“I love ice cream!” No; you don’t. You like ice cream. You may desire it with an immediate intensity and enjoy it with delectable delight. But you can’t, by definition, love it. (I’ll take two hefty scoops of vanilla; myself, as I very much enjoy the stuff!)
“If you love me, then you will!” are words that have ruined many young lives. He lusts after her, but expects her to love him! His impudence will only by rivaled by her naïveté, which will be dwarfed by tragic consequence.
We like things and people. We desire things and people. Or we love things and people. Like, desire (or lust) and love are three separate realities. We need to be so mindful if we are to live responsibly; certainly, if we are to honor God and to live fruitful lives.
It is an agreeable disposition to like those around you, or to appreciate your surroundings. I very much like living in Conshohocken. I might like it even more if Conshohocken were somehow transposed to New England, from whence I hale; nevertheless, life here has served me well, affording me a devoted wife and a lovely congregation.
I longed for Conshohocken when I have traveled, coveting life back at the ranch (at any rate; the parsonage) while rendering Christian service in Russia and India, or while touring the UK or taking respite in New England. Desire deepened affection; assuredly.
But do I love Conshohocken? Do I love my church? Do I love my wife? Yes; to the extent that I would sacrifice for them. The meridian is crossed from “like” into “love” only if and when I am prepared to give my life. It is love’s nature. Love gives, whereas mere “like” merely appreciates, and “desire” only wants.
Desire is innocuous enough, but easily morphs into lust, which is out-of-whack desire. “Lust” connotes sexual desire, but encompasses far more. “Eros” is the passion that drives us; frankly, it can be anything. Our lusts need to be recognized and corralled, concerning which our debilitated society has done poorly, especially but not exclusively regarding sex, an otherwise beautiful gift from God.
Look to love. Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15.13). Jesus gave His life on the Cross for His friends, and the fruitful results have been meteoric – He truly loved us! Our mothers lovingly give up sleep, hot food and personal satisfactions for us – They love us; unquestionably!
Love trounces and trumps “like” and “lust,” as the Bible makes plain: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13.4-8).
Try it. I guarantee you’ll like it. You may even want it more and more. God will give it to you. You need only ask Him for what you want. He would love to give it to you! Happy Valentine’s Day, from a servant of Him who loves you!