March 22, 2021
by Sarah Wilson
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 - “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”
For the majority of my life, I have been an avid journaler. In my basement you will find boxes of journals filled with the stories of my life. My desires, my hurts, my wants, my prayers. As I have matured, my content has also matured but honestly, some of the early journals are pretty embarrassing to look back on. The majority of those pages are full of things like “I LOVE Kory” and a printed picture of my celebrity crush with hearts drawn all around it. My cousin and I had crushes on two guys that were best friends. Surely, we would both get married and live happily ever after. I was convinced that I was in love because I felt such a strong emotional and physical attraction to this person. But was I in love? Come to think of it… had I ever even had a conversation with Kory? The answer to both of these questions is a definitive no.
While a story about my supposed love for a boy I’d never even talked to may seem silly, it points to some important questions: What is love? What is lust? And what is the difference?
God’s word says that love, at its core, is selfless. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 lays out an amazing picture of love for us. It is not: jealous, boastful, proud, rude, irritable, doesn't hold grudges, and doesn't demand its own way. It is: patient, kind, truthful, faithful, enduring, and believes the best. What really sticks out here is that truly loving someone is to be seeking their good and their gain above your own. Christ is the ultimate example of this love. Romans 5:8 says “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us”. When we were in the midst of our sin and brokenness, when we least deserved it, Jesus died for our sin. This is God’s selfless love for us. As Christians we are called to imitate this love that shows itself in selfless sacrifice (Ephesians 5:1-2). Love is not just a feeling but an intentional action to serve, honor, and protect the other person.
On the flip side, selfishness is at the core of lust. The focus of lust is on yourself and your own wants and desires, often without regard for the other person. It can be easy to convince ourselves that it’s okay to look as long as we don’t touch. But God takes lust seriously. In Matthew 5:27-29 Jesus says that if we even look at someone in lust it is like we have already committed adultery with them in our heart. God’s word is clear that we should run far away from sexual sin (1 Corinthians 6:18-20). We typically think of lust as just a physical thing but it can be emotional too. We can lust after how someone makes us feel special and wanted. Lust will never lead to a good relationship because it comes from a completely selfish motivation.
The difference between love and lust is what is going on in your heart. If you are truly in love with someone then the motivation of your heart is for their good - the other person is your focus. If you are in lust then the motivation of your heart is for your own good - you are your focus. Godly love sticks with it even when it’s hard and you don’t want to. Lust gives up when it doesn’t get what it wants. God is the source of true love and his greatest display of love was selfless sacrifice.
- Who is someone that you say you love? Ask God to show you one way that you can selflessly serve them this week.
- One of God’s tools in helping us fight sin is confession to other believers. Whether it is lust or something else, confess your sin to a friend or leader this week.
- If you’re in a relationship - Take some time this week to prayerfully consider why you are in your relationship. Sit down with a pen and paper and write down your thoughts and reasoning. Do you truly love that person or just like how they make you feel? Ask God to show you what is in your heart.