Is being “loving” the #1 thing in relationships, or is there something before that?
To put it plainly, the #1 thing I want is to walk by the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-25). That’s where security is, that’s where love is, and that’s where I am most truly myself—with Him, in Him. I love that. The #1 thing is not to walk in love, but by the Spirit, because the Spirit produces love—pure, genuine and perfect. I want Him more than anything, because in that I’ll have everything else. Otherwise, to walk “lovingly” becomes a self-defined action and look—manners—that cannot be maintained. Have you noticed?
We, ourselves, are not the source of love – Jesus is. God is love, but love is not God. That distinction is important; think about it. In the same way that water is wet, but not everything that is wet is water (consider poison), so it is that not everything that’s described as love or loving is God. People have weird and twisted ideas about love—no doubt you’ve made that distinction by now.
It’s the same thing with “life.” Although we often describe what goes on around us as life—“How’s your life going?”—we understand that Jesus promised something altogether different when He said, “I have come that you may have life and have it to the full” (John 10:10). He meant life on your inside, where He would come to live as the way, the truth, and the life. He is life. Right?
We make that distinction about life. So it is with love. It’s Him. God.
You and I are invited to know and drink deeply from the source of love, because love comes from God, as 1 John 4 tells us. We know that drink will powerfully affect us and those around us. It’s supposed to—that’s the design. The affect might be God-produced humility and gentleness, qualities most everyone wants to be around. Consider what Jesus said we would find if we took His yoke upon us; that He is gentle and humble in heart, and we’ll find rest. That’s beautiful. That’s Him.
Or the affect of drinking from the source of love, God, might be a God-produced, firm rebuke that you give to someone, which might make us nervous. “Could that happen to me?” Well, maybe. But consider how Jesus loved the momentarily deceived apostle Peter. Have you read what He said to Peter? “Get thee behind me, Satan” (Matthew 16:23). Wow. That’s strong! Was it love? Here’s a better question: Was it God? Yes. It was. That’s the qualifier. That’s love and that’s perfect because that’s Him.
Look, I want to walk in love (Ephesians 5:1) – Duh. Don’t you? But I know that love disconnected from the source all too easily becomes an act in order to secure a desired outcome in a relationship, whether with a relative, a friend, a co-worker, someone I’m just meeting for the first time, etc. Some people have said that, “Walking in love is the key.” But I think walking by the Spirit is the key that opens the door in me and in you for God and His love—pure, genuine and perfect. It’s then that our confidence is in Him, rather than in the properly selected style of behavior we put on, which is always subject to the pressure of assessment and judgment. In Him, we’re free of that.
So drink deeply from Him and enjoy His affect. Whatever that is, it will be love. All of our days are set up for us to know and enjoy Him, #1, who is and who produces love.