We live in a broken world, of that there is no doubt. And in this broken world, there is an enemy who longs to distort everything that is lovely, pure, and pleasing to God. He longs to ‘get back’ at God by attacking the apple of God’s eye, man. Somewhere in his perverted reasoning, if he can get enough people to follow him, then God will have to allow him back into Heaven, where he was summarily dismissed from his position of authority. It is amazing to consider how little he understands the mind of God.
Someone once said that the greatest trick the Devil ever performed was getting people to believe he wasn't real. But he is a very real being with a real intent on destroying our lives and bringing us into captivity to his way of thinking. And there is no protection from his ways outside of the grace of God.
You see, the devil doesn't want to be like God; he wants to be God. And he plays on our emotions and feelings to wrap us all up within ourselves to where we can’t even see the difference between what is true and what is a lie. If you really want to see the end of this joker, you can read about him in the book of the prophet Ezekiel 28:12-29. Here he is called the king of Tyre. He is also written about in the book of Isaiah 14:12-21, where he is called “the morning star, son of the dawn.”
One of the ways he has been lying to us and deceiving us for years is in the area of what true ‘love’ really is. He tells young men and women that love should be shared. But his version of love is anything but love. His version of love involves selfish actions that draw them away from God’s perfect plan for their lives and can bring them into a bondage that is awful difficult to get free from.
The Apostle Paul had a little to say about the subject of love in his letter to the Church at Corinth. In his 1st letter to the Corinthians, Paul defines love in the 13th chapter. He says it pretty simply, “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 13:4-8a NIV) Paul lays out what love in action actually looks like.
Love to my dog, Doc, looks like daily walks around the neighborhood. Love to my neighbors who live in that same neighborhood looks like me cleaning up Doc’s poop into a bag so that they don’t end up stepping in it. Love to Doc also looks like getting a ride in the car with the window down so he can stick his head out and smell the abundance of aromas we pass by. Love to Doc is his food dish being filled so he can eat whenever he is hungry and fresh water in his water dish so he can drink whenever he is thirsty. It’s having his ears scratched and being fed treats every night.
Love to my mom (when she was alive) and dad looked (looks) like me taking care of the yard, mowing it in the summer, raking the leaves in the fall, shoveling the snow in the winter, and picking up Doc’s poop throughout the year, because dogs have to go to the bathroom. Love also looked like dinner cooked and served and the kitchen cleaned up afterwards, the groceries bought and stored in the cabinets, and the kitchen floor mopped every few weeks. It looked (looks) like the laundry being washed, dried and folded and put away. Each and every week. It looks like the coffee maker being prepared the night before for the next morning so my dad only has to push a few buttons and his coffee is made.
Love looks like driving my dad to my sister’s house in Frederick and being willing to take him home when it gets to be about 9:00 in the evening so he can go to bed before 10:00. Even when the party doesn't really start until around 9:00 with my family. Love to my brothers and sisters is being willing to live with my aging dad because he really can’t live alone anymore. It’s balancing his checkbook and being willing to make some minor adjustments so he can still do the things he wants to do in his later years. It’s spending time with him, watching television with him, listening to his stories and laughing at his joke, even if I've heard them all a hundred times.
The main thing Paul was saying is that love is not about the giver of love. He says that love is “not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs…” Love is always thinking about what is the best for the person who is loved, not the person doing the loving. Whenever a guy tells a girl, “If you love me…” and the puts some physical demands on her, he is showing her exactly what love DOES NOT look like.
Love looks like a mother and father telling their children they can’t have the ‘latest and greatest’ right now because that child doesn't really need that. It looks like a man working a job he simply detests in order to keep a roof over his family’s head and food on the table. It looks like a young man sitting in a chair next to a woman in a hospital bed, holding her hand as she takes a few last breaths and her life slips away from her body. It looks like the old man holding the hand of the old woman in the recliner chair next to his because he cannot think of another way to express his love for her after all these years. It looks like the daughter putting a cool compress on her child’s forehead to cool a fever. It looks like a father on his knees asking God for mercy for his sick child.
Love looks like going to church week after week and being in the sanctuary every time the church doors are open even when God hasn't answered your prayers in years, or spoken to you, much less even let you know that He even thinks about you or knows you exist. Love looks like trusting in someone you have never seen, or physically heard, because at some time in the past, He changed your heart and opened your eyes to reveal that He was actually God. Love looks like trusting in someone you cannot see to eventually take you to a place you have never been to before because you can’t imagine.
I wish that my life looked like love the whole fifty-four years I have been alive, but that would not be telling the truth. And love looks like someone telling the truth all the time, even when I may happen to look bad in the light of the truth. I told a guy I knew at Wackenhut Security Services that “when you are always the star of your own show, then there’s a problem.” I let Jody go home from Korea when she was sick and needed me. She actually needed physical assistance getting off the plane in California trio make her connection, she was so weak. That didn’t look like love. I had my excuses, but then, we all have our excuses as to why we don’t reflect love in our daily lives. They don’t work, however, when we’re confronted with the truth.
The Apostle Paul said that “love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:8 NIV) But I recognize that I am not perfect and have a long way to go. Fortunately for me, he also said, “it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” (1 Corinthians 13:5 NIV) That’s God’s love for me and you. God is always looking for someone to show others what love actually looks like and he will use an abundance of methods to teach us how to portray love in its best light. Love is the key. There are a lot of important things to consider, but consider this: “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13 NIV)
Thomas A. (Tom) McLoughlin is a former United States Air Force bomb dog handler, a former missionary pilot, former cargo pilot, Doc’s (a Border Collie) owner and now is a published author. Tom, at 54 years old, is determined to grow old gracefully, even if it kills him. And he is convinced it probably will. Tom has lived in 7 different countries and 9 different states and has had his share of downturns in his life but is determined to keep a positive outlook on life.
Tom has recently published his first book titled “Failure Is the Only Option” with Tate Publishing Company. You can get your copy of Tom’s new book by going to http://thomasamcloughlin.tateauthor.com and purchase your own copy.