There is a story of a man who, on his wedding day, was asked by the minister, “Do you take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife, for better and for worse, for richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health?” His response was ‘Yes, no, yes, no, no, and yes.” Needless to say, that was not what his bride-to-be wanted to hear. Marriage is not a multiple choice proposition, it is all or nothing, and so is love. Love is not something we fall in to one day and then fall out of the next. When Paul said that “Love bears all things” he was speaking of love’s enduring and unchanging nature.
If you look to the media and entertainment industries for an understanding of Love, they will tell you that love is a response based upon our attraction for another person. But God has a different perspective on love. The God kind of love that we are to emulate is more of a choice than a response. Love, at its very core, is a decision to treat someone else with the character attributes that are distinctly god-like. Love is a decision to be patient, kind, selfless, humble, respectful, longsuffering, and forgiving towards another person. This kind of love is not conditional on the other person reciprocating love towards us, it is not conditional on their positive behavior and attitude towards us, but it is unconditional as a matter of our own choosing. Speaking of God’s love towards us, Paul writes, “For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6-8) God did not love us because we were worthy. In fact He loved us when we were still sinners and enemies of His kingdom. Rather God loved us because He chose to love us. It is comforting to know that God’s love for us is not conditional on us keeping the law. We all fall and sin in many ways but this does not diminish God’s love for us. He chose to love us and, even in our worst of times, His love for us is just as strong as it is when we are at our best. This is what the Lord spoke so many years ago. “The Lord appeared to him from afar, saying, ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness.’” (Jeremiah 31:3)
So should our love be one to another. We should never hold out our love as a conditional offering to those who must measure up to our standard of acceptance. We should not base our love on how someone else is treats us. We should choose to love with the love of God and then love through all time, for better or worse, for richer and for poorer, and in sickness and in health.