Recently I have been switching the word “love” for the word “value”. We are desensitized to the word “love” in our society; essentially it has become a self centered concept that focuses on our own desires and our own feelings, rather than its intended meaning. Love is not about us, but this is how we always consider the idea. For instance, when we say we love our girlfriend or that we love our car, or whatever, we are primarily considering how the object of our affection affects our feelings. We only say that we love something because it is bringing us some type of warm fuzzy. This self serving type of “love” has corrupted our God given right and responsibility to love God’s way–love that is focused outward rather than inward.
If you take the same examples above and apply the Godly concept of love to it, then our “love” becomes focused on the object, rather than ourselves. In fact, we can love the object without envy, jealousy, or anxiety because we appreciate it/him/her for its objective qualities rather than what those qualities are doing for us. Jesus chastised his followers for using Him as their personal genie when He said “I assure you: You are looking for Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate the loaves and were filled” (John 6:26). By using the word “value” instead of the word “love” we can see why the thing or the person we say we love is truly meaningful to us. Do you love your husband or your wife because of who they are? Or because of what they can do for you? Do you love God because of who He is, or because of what He is able to do for you? Take a moment and think of a relationship in your life and say: “I value you because _____________! If you feel guilty because you cannot think of a very good answer then the truth is you’ve been loving, or valuing that person for what they are able to do for your feelings or your life, rather than for them as an individual.
If you refocus your love on the individual rather than on their ability to make you happy, then you will truly be valuing them, loving them. But if you continue to only love people for how they make you feel, then you will only continue to be disappointed because people will always fail to validate you; it is our human nature. Take a moment today and begin to focus on the value of the people in your life rather than on their weaknesses and their failures. If you consistently encourage others based on their inherent value then those relationships will inevitably begin to flourish. However, if you only value you them for how they please you, then you will suck them dry and they will wither. People can only give so much before they fail, but God’s love never fails. It is our duty not to receive endless love, but to give endless love. When we refocus our goal of life to giving love by valuing and encouraging others rather than being edified and validated by them we will be transformed.