It was close to Valentine’s Day, and the young reporter suggested to the editor that she write an article on love. Somewhat apprehensive as to what she might write, the editor asked if she knew what love was.
“Sure I know,” she answered with feeling, “Love is that wonderful feeling when you sit alone with your sweetheart by a lake in shimmering moonlight.” The editor snorted, “Nonsense, that is not love. That is just sentiment and moonlight. Love is getting up at two o’clock at night to fix the baby his bottle.”
We can identify with the editor as we understand that love is not a warm feeling or a tender emotion. Love is more … much more. As the Scriptures say, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.” (1 John 3:16) In other words, love is giving of ourselves and sacrifice.
With the knowledge that love is full of sacrifice and decision, I’d like to share a story told by the late, Corrie Ten Boom. In her book, The Hiding Place she writes:
It was a church service in Munich that I saw him, the former S.S. man who had stood guard at the shower room door in the processing center at Ravensbruck. He was the first of our actual jailers that I had seen since that time. And suddenly it was all there — the roomful of mocking men, the heaps of clothing, Betsie’s pain-blanched face. He came up to me as the church was emptying, beaming and bowing. “How grateful I am for your message, Fraulein,” he said. “To think that, as you say, He has washed my sins away!”
His hand was thrust out to shake mine. And I, who had preached so often to the people in Bloemendaal the need to forgive, kept my hand at my side. Even as the angry, vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. Jesus Christ had died for this man; was I going to ask for more? Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him. I tried to smile, I struggled to raise my hand. I could not. I felt nothing, not the slightest spark of warmth or charity. And so again I breathed a silent prayer. Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give me Your forgiveness. As I took his hand the most incredible thing happened. From my shoulder along my arm and through my hand a current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me. And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself.
Corrie Ten Boom’s story brings to life the truth that love comes from God. It is Jesus that gives us the ability to love:
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” (1 John 4:7)