Does love define you?

When someone dies and I sit with the family to plan a funeral, I always ask this question, “What is one word that describes your loved one?” As family and friends think they start to give the same words. It's interesting how just a few words define our lives when it's all over.

Last Sunday we studied about the prophet Hosea. We know very little about him except that he is an exceptionally faithful man who loved without terms or conditions. Hosea married a woman he knew would be unfaithful and his love brought her back from a life of prostitution. His love never gave up on his wife, he was defined by one word: love. Hose's life was a living example of the love God has for all of his people.

Love is probably the word that best defines God and it should define us. God calls us with and to a kind of love that should define us completely. Consider 1 John 3:16, “We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another.” John reminds us that we know what love is because God is love! John then challenges us to be defined in the same way as God by love.

Remember you can be defined by your love even when your love isn’t reciprocated. Consider the well known parable of the prodigal son. The son leaves and the father waits with love for his son. Jesus tells us that when the son was still a long way off the father saw the son and ran to him! The father was looking for his son because he loved him.

What if the son never came home? Would that have meant the father loved him any less? No, the father’s love defined who he was not the son’s response. This is the kind of love that God calls us with and that God calls us to.

Maybe your love has been seeking a wayward son or daughter. Maybe your love has quietly been seeking a spouse who has wandered far from you. Maybe your love is still pursuing a friend who has lost their way. Keep it up! Keep it up not because your love will payoff; keep it up because you are defined by your love.

At the end of your life people will sum it up in a few words, what words do you want to be said of you? If you're still alive then you still have the opportunity to pick the words that will define you. I would encourage you to choose love. Live your life in such a way that love fills your heart, your mind, your actions, and your speech. Live so that your life would make no sense except for the love of God.

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