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How does Love begin?

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.

I John 4:7

Ann Landers once wrote, “Love is friendship that has caught fire. It is quiet understanding, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times. It settles for less than perfection and makes allowances for human weaknesses.” I like that quote. It captures the elusive topic of love with some practical insights into its true nature. True love begins with friendship.

Ms. Landers certainly netted the ideal, but let’s be real, that stuff is hard to pull off. I mean, settling for less than perfect and making allowances for human weakness sounds good, but I want my friends to measure up to some standard of acceptable behavior. I’m ready to forgive; up to a point. I’m all in on the sharing thing but this deal has got to move in both directions. I’m a pretty good judge of how much my friends need to give. We all struggle with this thing called love. And whether it’s between friends or lovers, it sometimes tests our resolve to just stay in the game. How does love grow into something we can no longer place under a microscope and dissect? Am I missing something?

When the Apostle John told us to love one another, he began by reminding us of something vital to the whole process. In case you overlooked the first word in the verse above, look again. He called us Beloved.

Karen and I recently enjoyed seeing the newest installment of the Beauty and the Beast. It is the mark of great stories that even though we know the ending, we just can’t get enough. I asked my family what lesson can be drawn from this amazing adventure and I was humored by my daughter-in-law’s reply. “If you must be kidnaped by a Beast, make sure he’s got a great library.” Good answer, but no fruit cup. I think G.K. Chesterton got a little closer to the bullseye. He wrote, “Nothing is loveable until it is loved.”

When I view myself as being loved by God, with no strings attached, I become loveable to others. When I am convinced that God loves everyone I meet, regardless of my first impression, then they become loveable in my eyes. If you wait for others to attain to your standard of loveliness, then you will never love. But when you give God’s love to all you meet, as a default, then you will be amazed at how lovely people instantly become.

It is no surprise that love must start with God. I hope to attain to the ideal of love in all my relationships but I am plugging a toaster into itself, if I think I can truly love others without first receiving love from God. His love is a gift, freely given. Our love to others must likewise be a gift, freely given because He first loved us.

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