When people think about love, they think of it as a thing they get from others or give to those they are attached to. We all want to have love from others – we crave it actually. Whether it is from our families, our friends or from those we deeply are “in love” with.
And to give or receive love, there must be an action. Maybe words are spoken, a grand gesture is made, kindness is given or affection shown through physical touch. We all want this thing called love, but love requires action.
Love is a verb.
I was teaching English in Burma (Myanmar) last summer. Knowing that the English language can be tricky, I wanted to show how some words can be both nouns and verbs. Immediately, I thought about love. It took a little bit of discussion for them to realize this, but we got there. I used my sister as an example; I love her, therefore, I call and write her, I send her gifts, I spend time with her, I tell her I love her, I hug her, etc. And then we identified all the verbs that represent love (call, write, send, spend, tell, hug). I felt really accomplished that day as not every day garnered such understanding in my classroom. To celebrate, I left them with a song recently released by John Mayer, “Love is a Verb.” Very appropriate.
So, it’s been more than a year from my time in that classroom. And now God is revealing there are people in my life he wants me to love. People who I really don’t know, maybe don’t want to know or even hold some bitterness in my heart toward. As I’ve been praying and studying this more, I’m realizing that this love is two-fold. One: I am showing my love for Christ by acting in obedience to him. Two: in my obedience, I need to forgive these people and love them even when I don’t want to and when it’s really hard.
I keep reading Colossians 3 as God has been using this passage to drive this lesson into my heart. Verses 12-14 have struck a chord with me. Paul is calling us to “put on love.” He prefaces this command by telling us to put on compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness and patience. . . . “forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you.”
I’ve struggled with the phrase “put on” because love has always seemed to me to be a feeling – a noun, not a verb. To put love on seems as if I just flip a switch and there it is. How do we go about loving those who maybe in our earthly understanding don’t deserve to be loved? What if I just don’t feel it? But, I’m always drawn back to the fact that I don’t deserve Christ’s love, and yet he freely gives it. And he ”put it on” through his obedience to God on the cross – dying for my sin. His act of love. Let’s call it his verb of love.
So, I’m a work in progress right now; teetering between the desire to obey God and dwelling in the past and my bitterness. It’s not an easy place to be, but I’m so thankful to have a solid group of Godly women in my corner praying for me, encouraging me, sharing with me . . . putting on love for me.