Love is Different

by Jeffrey W. Hamilton

Paul's description of love in I Corinthians 13:4-8 is both well-known and unheeded. Despite knowing what love is and is not, people still expect more of love. They want the fluttery feeling of butterflies in the stomach and the emotional high. To many, love isn't real without the emotions. But are the emotions love? Or, does love create the emotions?

Love is often confused with infatuation -- the strong desire for a particular person that is founded upon a person's imagination of what a person should be like. Love is different from infatuation because it is rooted in reality. Love grows as the real person is confirmed repeatedly. Infatuation crumbles as the real person pushes aside the imagined. When a person says, "Love is blind," he doesn't realize that love is different from infatuation.

Unable to distinguish physical sexual attraction from the concept of love, some people can only imagine themselves being in love when they lust after another. But love is different:

Lust Love
Lust can't wait, is impulsive Love is patient
Lust is cruel, critical and manipulative Love is kind
Lust seeks more than it earns Love does not envy
Lust builds self at another's expense Love does not boast
Lust is easily threatened Love is not proud
Lust is disrespectful and thoughtless Love is not rude
Lust is demanding and uncaring Love is not self-seeking
Lust is temperamental and retaliates Love is not easily angered
Lust does not forget offenses Love keeps no record of wrongs
Lust commits wrongs to get its own way; rationalizes Love does not delight in evil
Lust encourages lies and covers up misdeeds Love rejoices in the truth
Lust takes to gain its own end; lacks concern for the consequences to others Love always protects
Lust is suspicious and jealous Love always trusts
Lust says one chance and you're out Love always hopes
Lust backs out when it is no longer convenient Love always perseveres
Lust ceases when self is no longer served; it is fickle, insecure and unfaithful Love never fails; it is constant, enduring, and faithful to the end

[Dennis Rigstad, Pulpit Helps]

How do you view love? "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love" (I John 4:7-8). Is your love different, or is it just something else in disguise?

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