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The Acid Test of True Love
1. What is Love?
Psychiatrist Harry Stack Sullivan says: "When the satisfaction, happiness, and security of another are as real to you as your own, you truly love that person." This desire to see you satisfied, happy, and secure is more than a feeling. It is more permanent than an emotion. It is an act of my mind and my will. It is my decision (I am going to love you) and my commitment (I will say, do, and be whatever you need for your satisfaction, happiness, and security). In other words, I decide that I am going to love you as I love myself. And I am committed to provide as best I can whatever promotes your true happiness.
Therefore, my motive of love, according to John Powell, should clearly exclude:
· Hurting or punishing you.
· Retaliating for something you have done.
· Putting you down, back into your place.
· Getting you off my back by closing you out.
· Keeping you at a distance.
· Manipulating you to feel or act in a way that would please me.
· Ventilating, dumping my "emotional garbage" on you.
· Refusing to listen to you.
· Building walls between us.
· Ridiculing, chastising, judging, or competing in order to surpass you. (“Will the Real Me Please Stand Up?” 204)
2. What are the Acid Tests of True Love?
I suggest that there are two acid tests for love: They are:
ii) Good temper.
For love to be true, I must really forget myself. Can I truly focus my mind on your happiness and your fulfillment? Can I deny myself? Can I make sacrifices of my needs for you?
We are all selfish by nature. We normally look after ourselves first, last and always.
Our Selfish Nature consists of:
· Self-centredness---looking at self, watching self, examining self and always regarding self.
· Self-conceit---how ready we are to defend self and to condemn the same things in others!
· Self-indulgence---we are very indulgent with self; we prohibit things in the other person but it does not matter if we do the same thing ourselves.
· Self-pleasing---always doing things that please us.
· Self-seeking---always looking out for self interest.
· Self-pity---why should people treat us like this?---we have done no harm; we are not in the wrong at all---why should people be so difficult?---we are given a hard time and it really isn’t fair.
· Self-sensitiveness---how touchy we are, how easily wounded, imagining difficulties and attacks, seeing them when they are not there, an abominable sensitivity.
· Self-defence---always on the defensive, waiting for people to be unpleasant, and because we are like that, we almost make them unpleasant---we are on the defensive.
· Self-assertion---asserting self; we desire things, and we must have them.
· Self-sufficiency---we want to be in a position to say that ‘I am a self-made man who worships his creator (himself).’
Thus for my love to be true, I must not live only for myself. I must not think only of myself. I must not have the attitude---none but myself. I must consciously decide and commit myself to do all for your happiness and security.
ii) Good Temper
We are inclined to look
upon hot temper as a very harmless
weakness. We often speak of it as a mere infirmity of nature, a family failing or a matter of temperament. We don’t take bad temper very seriously when we assess a man's character.
quick temper is a revelation: a symptom of an unloving heart at the bottom.
It is the constant feverish outburst which speaks
of the real disease within. It is the intermittent bubble that escapes to the
surface and this betrays that there is some rottenness underneath. For a
want of patience, a want of kindness, a want of generosity, a want of courtesy,
a want of unselfishness, are all instantaneously symbolized in one flash of
No form of vice, not worldliness, not greed of gold, not drunkenness itself, does more to harm to the family than evil temper. For embittering life, for destroying the most sacred relationships, for devastating homes, for withering up men and women, for taking the bloom off childhood, for breaking up communities: in short, for sheer misery-producing power, this temper influence stands alone.
What is bad temper made of? The ingredients of all ill temper are partly jealousy, anger, pride, un-charity, cruelty, self-righteousness, touchiness, doggedness and sullenness.
And temper can be obvious or it can be subtle. Temper manifests itself in some of the following ways:
a) Explosion----we rage, we use anger to lash out at others and intimidate them, we are easily ruffled.
b) Implosion----we give the silent treatment, we sulk, we are moody, we are sullen, we turn it inward and beat ourselves up.
c) Irritation---we have little tolerance, we are out of control, we are cold, we are touchy.
d) Repetition---we nag constantly, we are stuck in the same angry groove.
It is best to avoid all forms of anger because if we give anger an inch, it will take a mile. So don’t let anger get a foothold in our hearts. For once anger gets into our hearts, it is hard to uproot. And if we let the sun go down on our anger, our hearts will harden into resentment and bitterness.
3. What are the Ingredients of Love?
When we pass light through a prism, we get the colors of the rainbow: red, and blue, and yellow, and violet, and orange, etc. Similarly when we pass love through the spiritual prism, we get the ingredients of love.
The ingredients of love, as in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, are:
· Humility (Less ego) -- Love does not parade itself and is not puffed up
· Sincerity (Honesty) -- Love does not rejoice in iniquity butt rejoices in the truth
· Forbearance (Accepting) -- Love bears all things
· Faithfulness (Committed) -- Love believes all things
· Hopefulness (Confidence) -- Love hopes all things
· Endurance (Perseveres) -- Love endures all things.
Patience; kindness; generosity; humility; courtesy; selflessness; good temper; guilelessness; sincerity; forbearance; faithfulness; hopefulness; and endurance---all these make up the stature of the perfect man.
4. What is the Fruit of Love?
The result of our love is manifested in our fruit. And according to Galatians 5:22-23, the fruit of love is:
· Joy ---a cheerful heart, a heart burning with love.
· Peace ---a heart that is at ease and at rest.
· Patience ---able to accept, endure, tolerate and suffer the tantrums, slights, blame, accusation, injuries and hurts, without retaliation.
· Kindness ---being generous, compassionate, and friendly.
· Goodness ---thoughtful and sensitive spirit.
· Faithfulness---keep to his promises and commitment.
· Gentleness ---kindly and tender in words and deeds.
· Self-control---great control over his thought and feeling.
And Mother Teresa also says:
“The fruit of Love is Service and
The fruit of Service is Peace”
Every one of us is looking for such fruit. All of us, without exception, greatly desire such fruit---joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. People will know us for what we truly are, for “By their fruits you shall know them.”
5. Learning How to Love Better
What, then, is preventing us from loving better in order to obtain such fruit? Why don’t we love more? The problem is our human nature. Our will-power will not change us. Time will not change us. But Christians believe that Christ does change us.
Our characters are made more loving not by taking the bitter fluid out, but by putting something in---a great Love, the Spirit of Christ. This Spirit of Christ, who is love, will penetrate into us, sweeten, purify and transform us. Only this can eradicate what is wrong and work a radical change. It will renovate, regenerate and rehabilitate our inner nature.
So, abide in Christ, stay in His presence constantly, and soak in His love, His grace and His mercy. As Henry Drummond in 1884 said, “Contemplate the love of Christ, and you will love. Stand before that mirror, reflect Christ's character, and you will be changed into the same image from tenderness to tenderness. There is no other way. You cannot love to order. You can only look at the lovely object, and fall in love with it, and grow into likeness to it. And so look at this Perfect Character, this Perfect Life. Look at the great Sacrifice as He laid down Himself, all through life, and upon the Cross of Calvary; and you must love Him. And loving Him, you must become like Him. Love begets love. It is a process of induction. Put a piece of iron in the presence of a magnetised body, and that piece of iron for a time becomes magnetised. It is charged with an attractive force in the mere presence of the original force, and as long as you leave the two side by side, they are both magnets alike. Remain side by side with Him who loved us, and gave Himself for us, and you too will become a centre of power, a permanently attractive force; and like Him you will draw all men unto you, like Him you will be drawn unto all men. That is the inevitable effect of Love. Any man who fulfils that cause must have that effect produced in him.” (“The Greatest Thing in the World.”)
Finally, “Eternal life also is to know God, and God is love. This is Christ's own definition. Ponder it. "This is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent." Love must be eternal. It is what God is. On the last analysis, then, love is life. Love never faileth, and life never faileth, so long as there is love. That is the philosophy of what Paul is showing us; the reason why in the nature of things. Love should be the supreme thing---because it is going to last; because in the nature of things it is an Eternal Life. That Life is a thing that we are living now, not that we get when we die; that we shall have a poor chance of getting when we die unless we are living now. No worse fate can befall a man in this world than to live and grow old alone, unloving, and unloved. To be lost is to live in an unregenerate condition, loveless and unloved; and to be saved is to love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth already in God. For God is love.” (Henry Drummond, “The Greatest Thing in the World.”)
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