There is an amazing and overwhelming sensation of love that overcomes a parent when they hold their child for the first time. I felt it a few weeks ago, for the third time in my life, when I held my new baby girl, Thea Joan. The love I felt in that moment transcends emotion. I felt overjoyed. I was delighted to share her, but very protective of her. They say that a near-death experience causes a person’s life to “flash before their eyes,” but a new life has a way of doing the same thing. With all three of my children, the first times I held them, all of my hopes and dreams for them flashed before my eyes. And all that I hope and dream for my children is that they will love and be loved.
That’s when love isn’t a choice – and neither is it simply an emotion. Moments like those are when love flows most naturally.
Other times, love is a decision we make. When we have been hurt, betrayed or let down, love is a decision we make. When we have been exploited, victimized or hurt, love is not an emotion; love is a decision we make in spite of our emotions.
Love is more than an emotion; it is a decision we make.But it’s more than a simple matter of asking ourselves, “will we love, yes or no?” It is a commitment. It is something we don’t just choose, but commit ourselves to. It is a muscle that needs exercised. It is a skill that we have to practice. Love is a discipline.
Like an athlete committed to a training regimen, love is a discipline that requires commitment in order to experience growth and increase endurance.
When we were dead in sin, the love of Christ made us alive again. When the world was captive to death, the self-sacrificial love of Jesus freed it from the bondage of death and gave it a future in Him.
And if we, as emulators of Christ, are to know the victory of the Kingdom of God, it starts by loving as he loves – even when it’s undeserved; even when it’s hard – because it is a commitment to love that gives way to Kingdom victory.
You were dead through the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once lived, following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient. 3 All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of flesh and senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us 5 even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.