Love is alive when it's giving, it's dying when it's exchanging (you do this for me, I'll do that for you – bartering) and it's dead when it's taking (when it's selfish).
I Corinthians 13:5 (NIV), "It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs."
There are all different kinds of relationships that we have. We have give-and-take relationships – I take and you give. We also have fair exchange relationships – you do this for me, I do that for you. But the best relationship, the healthiest kind of relationship is a give and give relationship. Both people giving because they've decided they want to give not forced to. It's their decision and their choice. Love is alive when it's giving.
We have a real dangerous habit in our society of exchanging love. You scratch my back.... It's OK for business but it's terrible for relationships.
I think one of the reasons we have this habit is because the whole concept of romantic love – at the very core of romantic love is this concept of exchanging love. You bring me flowers and I bring you candy. I do this for you and you do this for me. This is exchanging love all the time. But love is a lot more than romance.
Many of you have been disappointed in your life, because you were looking for love that was going to be romantic and it just didn't work out. It was supposed to be fairy tale and it was a grim fairy tale, if anything. You look at your life and think, "If I'm supposed to be Cinderella why do I feel like the ugly step sister all the time?" "If I'm supposed to be Snow White, why in the world did I get stuck with Dopey instead of the handsome prince?"
I love romance, it's great. But it's not all there is to love. It's a part of our lives, but the definition that you have for love must be a lot broader than that.
Much of love isn't romantic, it's just sacrificial giving. But that sacrificial giving is what eventually builds real romance in life. That's what love is all about. Romantic love demands constant attention. Real love gives constant attention.
There's a real question in this when I talk about love is giving – a give and give relationship. Some of you have already thought this through. What happens when I give and they don't? What am I going to do then? And you're thinking, "This is a big risk. I'll wait for them to give first." And everybody is waiting for someone to give.
GOD didn't wait for us to give. HE gave HIMself to us before we even recognized HIM. HIS advice to us is to begin the process by being the person who gives.
Some of you are thinking, "I can't do that. That's a terrible risk! If I give and they don't, won't they take advantage of me?" Yes, they could take advantage of you. To love is to put your self in a vulnerable situation.
C.S.Lewis said: "To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to be sure of keeping it in tact, you must give your heart to no one. Lock it up in the safe or the casket of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark and motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken but it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, and irredeemable. The only place outside of Heaven where you can be safe from all the dangers of love is hell."
Love is dangerous. But it's worth the risk not to harden my heart and live an empty life. It's worth the risk. Love is giving. That's when it is alive.
Just a thought from the front porch…