As I was gathering my thoughts for this week’s post, I was musing over the question of just what it means to love unconditionally. I know that the way humans love is different from how God loves. There are many means to express human love, but they almost always center upon getting some form of benefit from the relationship. God’s U Love, on the other hand, is a selfless, benevolent type of love. To better understand these concepts, I decided to consult the actual scripture in the Bible which discusses unconditional love. You know this passage by now, considering we’ve talked about it in practically every post on this blog! You guessed it. It’s the well known love chapter in 1 Corinthians 13.
I usually start reading 1 Corinthians 13 at the part as seen below, which describes how “love is patient, love is kind, etc.”
Love is patient and kind. It does not envy or boast. It is not proud or rude. It is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered and keeps no record of wrongs. It does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
LOVE NEVER FAILS!!!!!!
This time, though, I began to read a few paragraphs prior to this love section. I noticed that these earlier portions emphasize the idea that regardless of the great things one may accomplish in life, it means little unless you first love others well. (From 1 Corinthians 13), “I may fathom all mysteries, know all things, have all faith – enough to move mountains; but, if I lack love, I am nothing. I may give away everything I own; but, if I lack love, I gain nothing.” Without a doubt, to God, loving others is paramount. That’s a truth, which, when embraced, can be life changing.
But, here’s the question about which I often wonder. What does unconditional love look like in everyday life? On the one hand, I see from the U Love definition above that we are not to be focusing on ourselves, but on the needs of others. That would include being very forgiving of people, and overlooking their offenses. On the other hand, does loving unconditionally mean we are to completely deny ourselves to love others? So, how does one practically apply the U Love concept to life?
I think the answer as to how we can specifically show unconditional love will vary from situation to situation. But, the application of U Love should always be directed by God, who sees the big picture, and knows the needs of each person at any given time. This makes a good case for forming a close relationship with God. He, then, can direct our path. Without the God connection, we can really misunderstand how to operate in U Love in certain circumstances. We may think it’s correct to solve an issue one way, but God’s solution may be just the opposite.
For instance, I have a friend named Jon, whose close relative, Steve, asked him for some money to help out with a particularly legitimate need. The sum being requested was substantial. Steve’s need seemed to be reasonable; and Jon had the money to help Steve; but it would have required Jon to delay some of his own financial commitments. This would not have put Jon in financial jeopardy, but it would have made cash flow a bit tight for him for awhile. Would U Love ask Jon to put aside his own needs to help another person more in need? At a quick glance, some people would say, “Yes.” But, let’s examine this situation more closely.
Steve has had a habit of over spending, almost to the point of squandering money. As a matter of fact, Jon has had to help Steve out of financial binds numerous times in the past. In these cases, either Jon did not get the money returned to him, or he had to wait an inordinate amount of time for the cash to be repaid. Steve has also made a habit of approaching other friends and relatives to borrow the money to cover the over spending. It now appears that living on borrowed funds rather than tightening his purse strings has become a consistent way of life for Steve.
At this particular juncture, Jon has committed his extra money to some investments, which would have to be postponed indefinitely if he were to lend the money to Steve. Considering Steve’s spending history, it is questionable if the loan would even be repaid. Knowing all of the facts, Jon questions whether it would be wise for him to lend the money. Yet, Steve insists that Jon would be showing U Love if he would provide the loan.
As you can see, these types of matters are complicated. Is it really showing U Love to Steve by continuing to support Steve’s lifestyle of living on borrowed money? Or should Jon show tough love and not grant the loan? People would probably have varying opinions as to what is right. I find that, like this situation, most of life’s issues are not easy to resolve. It’s difficult to know what the loving thing to do is.
So, for me, the answers must come with God’s guidance. Since God wrote the guidelines for unconditional love, I figure He knows best how to apply it to each situation. My conclusion is for me to draw close to God so that I can be led by Him in all circumstances. It seems that getting through life will be far less complicated with God in the driver’s seat.
Have a great week! Please join our U Love chain here!
P.S. After prayerful consideration, Jon decided not to lend Steve the full amount of money; but, instead, gave him a small sum as a gift towards the needed cash.