E26: Godly love is not a feeling

PODCAST: Have you ever wondered how it’s possible to love everybody, even the people you don’t naturally get along with or feel love towards?

Is Godly love a feeling? (Christian podcast)

Have you ever wondered how it’s possible to love everybody, even the people you don’t naturally get along with or feel love towards? This week, Eunice shares her experience with Milenko on how an article on ActiveChristianity helped her with this exact struggle.

Transcript: “Living the Gospel” podcast, Episode 26: Godly love is not a feeling

This is ActiveChristianity’s “Living the Gospel” podcast. Join us as we explore different aspects of the gospel according to the Bible, and how we can put this into practice in daily life.

Milenko: Hi everyone, and welcome to this episode. I’m Milenko and I’m sitting in the studio together with Eunice.

Eunice: Hello!

Milenko: Eunice, we both work at ActiveChristianity, the website, and there’s lots and lots of articles there that have been written over the years. I’m just wondering what your favorite article is out of all of those.

Eunice: You are asking me a hard question here! It depends on when you ask me, but I would say, right now, one of my favorite articles is actually a testimony written by Anna Risa, I think years ago. The title is “Godly love – is it a feeling?” and it’s my favorite article because it has really helped me. The article talks about how she was wondering why she couldn’t love somebody. She had no loving feelings for that person, just like a friend, and then she found the solution, or she found out what loving somebody in that way actually means. So, I think that has helped me a lot. Actually, this is one of biggest areas I have been working with in 2019 and still am in 2020.

I think in life, sometimes you meet people that you just don’t naturally feel like you love them right away. I had been kind of struggling with this for a while, kind of like Anna, and praying about it and wondering, “What can I do?” Then along the way I realized that, “Hey! The first thing I have to do is to cleanse my thoughts to this person, or these people. If I’m kind of judging them or having some sort of negative … letting those negative feelings come in, then there’s no way I can love them, first of all. I remember someone once said something like, “You can be so pure that it shines like a mirror, and that can be something that you have in your youth time, now!” That really has helped me over the years with regards to thinking about how pure my thoughts can be. Just not letting those negative thoughts, judging thoughts come in.

Milenko: Any thoughts about criticism or jealousy or just irritation, maybe.

Eunice: Sometimes it’s even just a feeling. Like a little feeling of irritation, and you don’t know where it came from because obviously, you’re not trying to be irritated.

Milenko:  And it just seems like some people rub you up the wrong way. You can’t do anything about it, right?

Eunice: Yep! And then I realized that antipathy is a thing. It’s something that lies in my flesh, and I can say that by nature, I am kind of a strong person. I don’t naturally have sympathy to people that maybe more easily feel sorry for themselves, or that don’t naturally have confidence in themselves. Then I realized that it’s something in me that I don’t naturally feel sympathy for those people. That was something I realized that I can crush in my life. So, when I read this article … In a way, she writes it in kind of a funny way. Because she had been working with these thoughts too, and cleansing them, and then in the end, she realized that she was pure; she knew she had pure thoughts.

Milenko: She didn’t have negative thoughts to the others, but worked with that.

Eunice: But then, the funny thing is that she still realized that she didn’t feel any love towards this person. In a way, she kind of in a way pokes fun at herself. It kind of lets you realize that that’s how I’m experiencing it too. But then she went and talked to an older Christian who had a lot of experience in life, and he just says, “No, you’ve got it all wrong! The love Jesus is talking about isn’t a feeling. It is just as much an action as all the other things that He is telling us to do!” Then he mentions 1 Corinthians 13, that very well-known chapter about love.

Milenko: That is actually a real revelation, what love is. I don’t think there is anything more written and sung and spoken about than love in the world. And of course, that’s often a romantic love. But this love that Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 13, that really is something else. It’s all about action, right? We can maybe mention what it says there, 1 Corinthians 13. It says, “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” A lot of things there. It’s all about doing something, right? It’s action.

Eunice: None of the things you just mentioned is about a feeling, actually.

Milenko: It’s not feelings at all! It’s doing.

Eunice: And that’s kind of what that older Christian said to Anna. He said, if you’re not envying someone, if you are kind to someone, if you’re not behaving rudely to them, then it doesn’t matter what your feelings tell you, if you have any or not. Then he said, “You’re obeying Jesus’ command totally and completely.” Then she realized “Oh! I had gotten it all wrong! I was waiting for me to feel love before being kind to someone.” And then she realized actually by doing these things, is proof that I love them.

Milenko: And it’s a way that we can love everybody, no matter who they are, no matter how we feel about it, because it’s a choice we make, it’s something we actually carry out, something we do.

Eunice: We have control over it.

Milenko: Right! And our actions show that we love. That’s also what Jesus says – it actually fits in really well – I can read it there from John 15:12-14. Jesus says there, “This is My commandment, that you love one another.” So, it’s actually a commandment Jesus gives us. It’s something He says that we have to do, not a feeling but it’s something that we have to do, “That you love one another as I have loved you.” Here it comes: “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.”

So, He’s saying, lay down your life for your friends, that’s love, and you are My friends if you do what I command you. And this is where it lies, it’s doing something. If we love Jesus, we do what He commands us. And laying down our life, what that means is that I put aside all my own priorities, everything, egotism and everything that’s about myself. If you think about it, all these negative things that come up, it’s egotism. If I feel irritated about someone, it’s because I am not happy about how the situation is for me, right? When I feel that irritation, that’s what Jesus means about my life, I have to lay that down. I have to find what’s in myself. If I feel this coldness towards another person, what’s that? It’s that I don’t care enough. I have to find my life; I have to lay that down, as Jesus says.

This is often used as an example when you think about, for example, fallen soldiers in a war, there’s often a quote, “No one has greater love that he lays down his life for his friends,” to show their great sacrifice, that they’re willing to die for other people. Of course, that is a really good example, but in the daily life, I mean, it doesn’t mean that I have to die physically, but what it means is: My life, I have to give that, all those negative things that come up, all that makes it difficult with my relationship with other people. It’s all about all my demands, my egotism, and I have to lay that down. And there is no greater love than this, that I put aside all my own needs and demands and so on, so that I can bless the others. That is Jesus’ commandment. It’s as we heard there, when we fulfil 1 Corinthians 13, then we are completely fulfilling Jesus’ commandment.

Eunice: And I think everything in 1 Corinthians 13 can’t be done without that dying and laying down, like you talked about. Like envy. I can’t get over envy without putting away my own thoughts about me being better than that person for example, or that I deserve more. I think this love that we are talking about here is quite different from romantic love would you say? I’m just thinking, when I read in the Bible, it quite often mentions love, but not so much the love that is sung about in that way.

Milenko: No, a romantic love, that is actually a feeling. That is something, you have this great enthusiasm for another person, which is great. It’s really a real help, when you’re in that position, then you really want to only do good for the others, you only want to talk good about them, you only want to give them the best, and want to be with them all the time; it’s something you feel. But as we said before, 1 Corinthians 13 isn’t about feelings. This is where this other, godly love … in Greek, the word Agape love is used. It’s godly love, It’s an unselfish love. It’s a love that has got nothing to do with how I feel about things, but it has got to do with action and doing the best for the others. This is what we have been talking about from 1 Corinthians 13.

Eunice: Seeking others’ best interests and not expecting anything in return.

Milenko: That’s there when I’m in love romantically, of course, but if that feeling goes away, what happens then? Do I become cold to that another person? Do I become harsh? We see that happens quite a bit in relationships, when the first feelings go away. That’s because there hasn’t been this underlying Agape, godly love. It doesn’t only concern my partner, like my romantic partner but everybody I’ve got to do with. This kind of love is unselfish. What we were saying before, that egotism, that I’m important, that gets put aside, I lay that down, and then I serve the others. And then I show that I love them.

Eunice: It’s written towards the end of 1 Corinthians 13 too, it says, “Now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” It also says a little bit earlier in the chapter, that if we don’t have love, it profits us nothing. So, why is it that the greatest of these is love?

Milenko: I’d say it’s got to do with that, what we were talking about, that it’s actually action, that you’re actually doing something. Our faith and our hope are based on what we look forward to, right? That we look forward to eternity, we’re looking forward to a life in heaven with Jesus, we’ve got faith that He will save us. But the love, that is the action. That is actually the obedience to Jesus’ commandments. He says there in John, that we show that we love Him, that’s laying down our lives for the others – it’s action. And the action is actually what gives results. You can also say that I act in love because of my faith, my faith drives me to love, but it is actually the love that is the action. If you have a love for God, it’s exactly the same – that drives us to serve Him, to please Him, to do what we can, to show our love for Him. If we love the others in that way, then we also lay down our life.

So, I think that’s why it’s also the greatest of all, because it’s actually doing something. It affects everyone around me, not only myself, but the others around me get blessed through that. It’s what cements us together, builds us up. In our families, in our relationships, people that we have to deal with, that love that I show, that helps to build those relationships. And also, my relationship to God in the same way, and how He loved us. How Jesus loved us, He laid down His life, literally and He also did the same thing that He came to serve us. That’s showing the love that He had for us, so there is nothing greater than that.

Eunice: Yeah, the thing about that love is that it doesn’t fade away. I think, if anything, it increases. The more you pursue it. So, I hope this episode has inspired us to pursue love, not the love through feelings but love through action. So, thank you for listening today.

Milenko: If you want to read that article on ActiveChristianity it’s by Anna Risa, you can search it under the title, which is: “Godly love – is it a feeling?” There is also a link in the episode notes, which you can click on.

Eunice: And we also have something very exciting that has been launched on our YouTube, and it’s an animation series, “Bible quotes explained.” Right now, there are four episodes out. So, we start with four Bible terms that are quite often asked about. We’ve done awesome animation for them; we’ve worked for probably almost a year now animating, illustrating – not me of course, I can’t draw! – but our awesome team, so don’t miss that. Head on to our YouTube channel to check out those videos.

Milenko: Right, and as you said, there’s four episodes out now; there’s another four coming soon, and we hope to make more in the future as well. So, go in and check them out, I think you will really like them. But that’s all we have for this week so thanks for now. and remember to tune in next week!

Eunice: See you! Bye!

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Godly love – is it a feeling?

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Scripture taken from the New King James Version®, unless otherwise specified. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.