If disciplining children is hard and at times hurts you more than it hurts them, it’s love. If discussing your friend’s bad behavior makes you uncomfortable but you do it anyway, it’s love. If you volunteer and stick with it even when it becomes a hassle, it’s love. If you make your pet peeve your own problem instead of everyone else’s problem, it’s love.
Love is not defined by how good it feels. Love’s roses have thorns. “This is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands” (2 John 1:6).
God’s commands can expect more than we want to give. These are the thorns of love, and we bristle as they touch our hearts. We feel pain; we flinch and step back. But God says, “Come near.” We resist. We avoid. We turn away from those who need our love.
Think of this. God the Father said the same thing to his Son, Jesus. “Come near the thorns. They are thorns of love, my Son.” And he did. They pierced him. The crown of thorns. The cross’ nails. The stinging mockery and the piercing guilt of our sins.
“Come near,” Jesus now says. “This is love. I died for it. I live for it. It’s yours.”
Believe that, and you’ll learn what true love really is—outside of yourself, your heart, your feelings, and your own definition.