This month’s Pastor’s Perspective is delivered by Pastor Daniel Gillenwater, The Church at Eastern Oaks
In the Fellowship Hall of the church I pastor, we have a bulletin board where we post various ministry rotations and volunteer assignments. This board is always decorated, and the theme changes every month. With the arrival of February, our bulletin board will be decorated, as I’m sure so many others will, with the theme of love. Everything will be done in red and pink. There will be hearts… there’s even a picture of a cute brown teddy bear dressed like cupid. If that doesn’t scream “LOVE,” then I don’t know what does!
As everyone knows, February is the month we celebrate Valentine’s Day. While there is nothing wrong with a holiday that celebrates romantic love, I believe we live in a society that, by and large, has no idea what true love is. Most people define love as a feeling. Love is an emotion, and as an emotion, it comes and goes. We need a better definition of love. Love is so much more than a feeling. Thankfully, God’s Word gives us the truest and best definition of love.
In the fourth chapter of his first epistle, the Apostle John has quite a bit to say about love. Specifically, look at how he defines love in 1 John 4:10, “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” Biblically, love is defined NOT as a feeling or an emotion. Love is defined as the selfless act of God sending His Son to die on the cross for our sins. That is what love looks like. Utilizing this biblical definition of love, let me make two important points that will help us love others better.
First, love is a choice. God did not have to send His Son to die for our sins. He chose to. Furthermore, we know love is a choice when we read about the two Great Commandments. In Matthew 22:36, Jesus is asked, “What is the great commandment in the law?” He responds in the following three verses by saying, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The Lord would not command us to love if we could not do so. Therefore, we clearly see that love is choice. With the Lord’s help, we can choose to love Him and love others, and this is exactly what we should do. We should choose love. Are you married? Choose to love your spouse. Are you a parent? Choose to love your children. Do you have a job? Friends? Choose to love your neighbor as yourself. This is something you can do whether you “feel like it” or not.
Second, love is an action. God demonstrated His love not with mere words alone but by sending His Son to die on the cross. This was an action. This was the most important action in the history of the world. This one action made forgiveness and salvation possible for anyone who will put their faith in Jesus. Therefore, if love is an action, I need to demonstrate love to those in my life. While saying “I love you” is important, it’s not enough. Love is an action. Love needs to be expressed through action. Yes, tell those in your life that you love them, but don’t stop there. Show them with your actions that you love them.
This February, our culture will celebrate love. However, they too often celebrate nothing more than a feeling. Love is so much more. Celebrate true love this February. Choose to act in love to those in your life. Most importantly, share the greatest love story ever told. Share the Gospel.
Pastor Daniel Gillenwater a Montgomery, Alabama native and is the Senior Pastor of The Church at Eastern Oaks where he has served since December of 2004. He received his Master’s and Doctorate degrees from Beeson Divinity School. Pastor Daniel has been married to Hanna for 19 years and they have two children, Lydia and Ford.