What is love? Right now, the predominate way our culture understands love is tolerance. It is loving to tolerate people that are different then you are. After all, we are to accept people the way they are. However, while some define love as tolerance, everyone has people they will not tolerate. The man who cheats on his wife, the sexual predator, the murderer, the crack head, the lazy guy that won’t work, the liar, the greedy person, the porn addict; for many, these are all, or some of the people we will not tolerate.
And, if the tolerant people perceive others as intolerant, they will not tolerate the intolerant.
Everyone one of us operates with a standard. Our standards typically come from either reason or revelation. Reason is our own standard in our mind which is formed by our education, experience, and opinion as intelligent people in 21st century America. Revelation refers to a divinely revealed standard that is true for all, regardless of race, culture, or time. Sometimes human reason and divine revelation correspond to each other. However, sometimes they do not.
While we do need to be lovingly patient with people’s tendencies, love is far more than tolerance. According to revelation:
Love is when you sacrifice your time to spend it with others. Yes, we are all busy. Many of us work hard and barely have time to breathe. The test of whether or not you love is not just that you tolerate things, but when you take time out of your busyness to listen, and spend quality time with the people around you, especially when you do not feel like it.
Love is when you sacrificially do things for others. Love is not just simply sitting back and telling society who and what you tolerate. Love is when you actually drop what you are doing to help others with action. Love is when you put other people first before yourself and sacrifice your own convenience for the needs of others. The ultimate example of this is Jesus Christ: Although He was God’s Son, He sacrificed His life for us so that we would live.
Love is when you sacrificially give. Anyone can have their money taxed and then the government give it to the poor to provide goods and services. But, what good is it if the government gives to others and we remain selfish? What credit is that to us?
Love is when you are gracious with your words. It is easy to be kind to those who are kind to you or to those who do not rub you the wrong way. The test of love is if you are able to be gracious and kind with your words to those who do not deserve it. It is easy to sit back and vent to people and about people. It is harder to tame our tongue, use self-control, and be gracious as God has been gracious to us. While many of us cuss out the people that crucify us, Jesus spoke forgiveness to them while being tortured.
Love is when you are sacrificially loyal to others. Some people are for you one day, and then they are against you the next. Some people are kind towards you one day, but then they desert you the next. When you truly love someone you will sacrifice your pride and your time to work things out and forgive before you just leave. Sure, there are people that left you by their actions. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the people you could have stuck it out with, but you chose not to for selfish reasons. The ultimate example of love is God: He never leaves us nor forsakes us (Deuteronomy 31:6). He forgives us of our sins daily even when we do not deserve it (Romans 5:8). In the good times and the bad; in your darkest moments, and in your shame: He sends His Son to prove His loyalty to you: to have Him die rather then lose you forever.
Love is abundantly and particularly sacrificial. It is more then tolerance.