Love Is A Verb

“Therefore show to them, and before the churches the proof of your love and of our boasting on your behalf.”

2 Corinthians 8:24

There is an old saying, “sometimes you don’t realize how much you love someone until you lose them” and though that can be true of the younger son in Luke 15, it can’t be said of his father. The father’s love was unchanging. You could easily say of the dad in this story that there never was a time when he didn’t love his son, even when the youngest son rejected his love. Isn’t that an amazing truth, there has never been a time when God has not loved us! It’s virtually impossible to shake His love.

Jesus tells us a story in Luke 15:11-32 about a man who had two sons but it just as easily could have been two daughters or a son and a daughter if that helps you relate better to the story. Being unloving is not limited to the male species. Women can be just as uncaring as any man. In Luke’s Gospel the fathers youngest child comes to him and in verse 12 says, “And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood.” That almost sounds respectful but in plain language he was saying, “Dad, you are just as good as dead to me. Give me the inheritance you would have given me when you die and let me get the heck out of here, I’m through with you.”

It’s not hard to imagine words like that would break any father’s heart but especially in this story as Jesus was revealing His Father’s love for us. What is the lesson we can glean from this story? Many, but here are a few.

First and foremost we learn that love is risky business. C.S. Lewis wrote, “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” Though rejected the father never stopped loving, not for a moment. People can be fickle. One day you are in and the next you are out based upon the tide of their emotions.

Second we learn sometimes we must let go even when we don’t want to. We let go not for ourselves but in honor of the request of another. Jesus taught His disciples to pray, “Not my will but Yours be done” and sadly even God honors that request when mankind rejects His love. 2 Peter 3:9 reminds us, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” How difficult it must be for the God of love to be rejected by the object of His love. I don’t think any of us can fully comprehend or appreciate the passion of Christ and all that He endured in love for us. Ask any parent who loves their child and is forced into this situation due to their child’s rebellion. The pain of letting go is unlike any other pain, second possibly only to losing the child altogether in death.  Yet, that’s what love does, for love is risky business.

Third, just because someone doesn’t love you back doesn’t mean you stop loving them, unless of course your idea of love is just like theirs. Jesus warned us that the love the world knows is a reciprocating love. Many people love only to get something where as God loves because He loves to give. True love doesn’t seek its own 1 Corinthians 13 reminds us, its seeks the benefit of the other. The prodigal father never stopped loving his son, he didn’t withhold his love nor did he refuse to bless his sons request even at personal expense. The father granted the wish of his son knowing it would be the son who would lose out and eventually lose everything. Just because God loves you doesn’t mean that He agrees with you. For love to be love it must be an act of free will.

Fourth, love holds out hope. Never underestimate the power of hope. The father never ceased to pray and believe that the son would come to his senses and return home. That was the fathers hope and it is that hope that shaped the father’s heart and his prayers and ultimately his response when his child came home. The father’s heart stayed tender to the rebellious child and he never allowed his own heart to become bitter. One of the tell-tale signs between lust and love is how a person responds when they are rejected. Lust burns out, love burns bright. The fathers love was motivated by the child’s need not his behavior. The father knew the child needed love and in the end it was the love of the father that served as the stepping-stones to bring the child back home.

Fifth and final, the father looked for the son. Luke 15:20 puts it like this, “And he (the prodigal son) arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.” Every day the father looked or the son. It reveals the desire of the father’s heart and when he finally saw the son coming home he ran to him. If you know Jewish history it was dishonorable for a man to run in public but this verse reveals that love is willing to look foolish. True love doesn’t care what others think or say, love breaks down barriers because true love is redeeming. In our world we care too much about what people think about us if we show love to someone who has hurt us or in this case disgraced us. We have all heard the saying, “Do it to me once shame on you, do it to me twice, shame on me.” True love never let’s go.

Luke 15 is not just a great chapter for parents to read in dealing with their prodigals. No, loved one, this chapter reveals the length true love will go and what it will endure for the benefit of another. This story though it is a picture of Gods heart for me and you we can make it our prayer today too that this kind of heart becomes yours and mine.

Next time you are rejected by anyone but especially someone you love, remember this about love.
1. Love is risky business but oh how worth the risk it is!
2. Love means sometimes letting go even when it hurts, no, when it kills you to do so.
3. Love means never stop loving. True love can’t be shaken for true love never fails!
4. Love always holds out hope
5. Love always seeks to reconcile it never rejects.

Let’s pray and ask God to give us His kind of love for people period, not just for those who love us back. We are never more like Jesus than when we love, for God is love!

“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”

1 John 4:11

I LOVE YOU!

Michael Osthimer

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