Better Than I Deserve
3/12/13 at 10:30 PM 2 Comments

Love is a Verb

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Jack Wellman, 2013

How many times have you heard that love is a feeling? Too many to count I‘m sure. Let me say this about love. It is a verb. It’s what you do. Feelings are so unreliable. They come and go. They are fleeting, but what we do remains. Let me explain. When a babysitter who was taking care of a young boy looked at the litter box and saw that it was full, she asked the boy, “Does your mother do this?” The young boy looked at the full litter box and so, “No, that’s the cat!” What the babysitter meant was did her mother clean it out. What is love? It is cleaning out the litter box. It is changing the diaper pail. It is doing for others what is unpleasant, regardless of whether we feel like it or not.

When I worked for Head Start as a Regional Manager I came to inspect the classrooms and the infant room was one of the first places I visited. I saw that the teachers had their hands full and so I went to the diaper pail and emptied it and then put in a new liner after disinfecting it. The teachers saw that I was there to help them, not to criticize them. I also have cleaned up many “spit ups” of the babies and infants. I was there to serve them and not just “write them up” for things that they hadn’t’ done. These teachers would do anything for me because I showed them that I cared about what they did and wanted to help them. I never asked them “Why is the diaper pail full?” Iinstead of telling them to do this or do that better, I came to say, “What can I do to help you make your job easier.” I don’t know who said it but I loved the expression, “They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

During my times of counseling married couples they frequently tell me that “I feel I don’t love him/her anymore.” I tell them that love is a choice. What you feel is less important than what you do. As with children, more is caught than taught. They can’t remember what I have told them because my actions are drowning out my words. I am not saying that I don’t have feelings of love for my children (and now grandchildren) but my actions validate my love for them. When a person says that they have “fallen in love” or they have “fallen out of love,” I frequently tell them that a person falls in a hole or falls off a ladder but to love someone is to make a choice.

Love is many things to humans but to God it is something altogether different. The Word of God describes love as a verb…that is, it is in doing for one another, not in what we feel for others. A prime example is what Peter wrote that we are to “love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Pet 4:8). Paul wrote that “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud” (1 Cor 13:4). In fact, love is how the unbelievers will know that we are God’s children as Jesus clearly said, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35).

Love is kind, it is forgiving of others, it gives people the benefit of the doubt, it is sacrificial, it doesn’t envy others, it’s not proud or boastful and it is sacrificial. It is doing the dishes for my wife, helping her with the groceries, taking out the trash…and yes, it‘s cleaning out the litter box. Now if I depended upon my feelings, then no, I wouldn’t want to do it because I don’t feel like taking out the trash, doing the dishes or cleaning out the litter box. I choose to do these things to express my love for my wife and family. All of the biblical descriptions of love are verbs, not nouns. Nouns are persons, places, and things. Verbs are action…love is what you do. Do you think Jesus depended upon His feelings to give His life? He gave His life as a ransom for many. God’s love is sacrificial since, “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Love is giving of oneself not a wishy-washy feeling. Love is not so much about what we feel. Love is a verb. It’s what you do!


Jack Wellman is Senior Writer at What Christians Want to Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believers daily walk with God and the Bible.

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