Let’s begin with a clear definition of love. Love is a decision to provide the very best for another even at a sacrificial cost. The words of 1 Corinthians 13 argue that love is not self-centered, it does not “seek its own” (vs. 5). When we decide to love someone we are deciding to give of our self even if it’s costly. Jesus and his death for us demonstrates that decision.
It is not hard to love those who love us. We happily give them anything they need regardless of the cost. It’s a two way street in which both sides give to make the relationship work. Parents give to their children and receive love from them, friends love and support one another. It is hard not to love someone who loves us.
Love is not an emotion; it is not a feeling. Love is a decision. Ideally, love is an irrevocable. We do not fall out of love with someone accidentally. It is a commitment and a vow which must be taken seriously. It is heartbreaking to see friendships and even families destroyed because someone changed their mind. I am glad that our Father is not so fickle. He loved the world, sinners all, and continued to act on that decision through the death of his only son (John 3:16).
The picture of perfect love is seen in Jesus. Consider for a moment what we bring into our relationship with Jesus. Sin, wickedness, deceit, rebellion and weakness all define our lives. Yet, in spite of all of that darkness, Jesus just keeps on loving. Even after we have become part of his bride, the church, we still fail. We are the self-centered spouse who seeks our own needs and desires above those of our Lord. But still, Jesus keeps on loving. We are the ones who pattern our lives after our own wants rather than the wants of the one who died for us. Still Jesus loves.
Hosea was a prophet of ancient days used by God to call Israel back to the loving relationship they had enjoyed with Jehovah. But Hosea was also an object lesson. God required him to marry a “wife of whoredom” and to have children by her (Hosea 1:2). She was not the kind of woman a man would bring home to his parents. She certainly was not the kind of woman a man would want to marry. Don’t miss the lesson here. We are the whore. We are the one no one wants – except Jesus. In spite of our ugliness and sin, he marries us anyway and lavishes his love on us.
Hosea’s story is not over. After he marries this woman she cheats! She returns to her life of immorality and Hosea is commanded to go and bring her back (Hosea 3:1-2). One can hardly understand. But God is teaching us about his love. He called to us when we were sinners (Romans 5:8) and continues to call us even when we return to our sinfulness. Notice 1 John 1:9; “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” For Jesus, love is not three strikes and you are out. It is an everlasting commitment to his bride, the church.
I am so thankful for his love. When I think of where I have been and where I am now I rejoice in the purity and patience of his love. I am the wife taken from whoredoms. I am the unfaithful one that he so gently retrieves from sinfulness.
What is love? Jesus!