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February is the month of LOVE. But every month should be a “love” month. We need love every day if we are to live well. God created us in His love, to love. All our relationships would be much fuller, richer, and more satisfying if we learned how to love well. So would our lives.

How does one love well? First, one must consider the meaning of love. It is far more than a simple emotion. And it runs deeper than the sentiment of a valentine's greeting. Perhaps the best definition of love is quoted in the popular love chapter of the bible. This description often read at wedding ceremonies, vividly paints a perfect picture of love.

“Love is patient, love is kind.

It does not envy,

it does not boast,

it is not proud.

It does not dishonor others,

it is not self-seeking,

it is not easily angered,

it keeps no record of wrongs.

Love does not delight in evil,

but rejoices with the truth.

It always protects,

always trusts,

always hopes,

always perseveres.

Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13)

Those words are easy to repeat but difficult to live. I know that firsthand!! Is anyone with me?

That is why Love is not a feeling but a choice. It is a complex act of one's will and one learns it best over time.

The most difficult requirement of love is to love everyone. Love is not reserved for only the lovely and loving people in our lives. It is to be given to the unlovely and unloving just as well. To love like that requires a greater love than we can give. Enter God. He is the only one with perfect and pure love.

“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:9-10)

Because He loves everyone. He is love!! He wants us to love everyone, even our enemies. Jesus taught us when he said, “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you……

"If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? (Luke 6:27)

OUCH! I am guilty of not loving like that. Only when we are filled with His love can we even begin to love others to the degree for which they were created. Each day I need to be filled up with God’s love so that I can live and love that way.

And while this kind of love requires sacrifice, it also reaps rewards. It leads to freedom, peace, and satisfaction. Freedom from angrily obsessing over revenge, freedom from the anguish of harboring unforgiveness, freedom from pangs of jealousy and resentment. When you are free from those emotional chains you can live in peace with God, yourself, and others. That is the satisfaction of complete and whole love.

Love then is multi-dimensional. It is upward, inward, and outward. It has an upward direction because God pulls us to Him with His love. It has an inward connection because in response to God’s love, we learn that we are loved so well, and we learn to love ourselves as well. That leads to an outward expression because only then are we truly capable of loving others. When we find release from our own hangups and handicaps we can begin to see others and desire the same kind of love for them. Because we know and experience this love we want to show it to others.

I hope that I can love like that, this month, and every month of the year. It is my prayer for you also!

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