The other day I was babysitting my three-year-old niece, a most conniving little angel. As she sat gawking at my girlfriend's brother, Matthew, who was eating potato chips, she told me that she loved me "so much." She had already devoured her potato chips, but she obviously wanted more. Many more expressions of love proceeded to drip from her lips. Finally, the question came; "Reg, can I have some more chips?" At first, I thought this little show of bribery was cute and funny, but then I started to think about the true meaning of love. What is true love? Poets, philosophers, religious leaders, and the American media all have different definitions for this word. Too often, love is conceived as doing whatever it takes to get your potato chips. However, true love involves much more than personal satisfaction.
Our society uses the term "love" far too lightly. Having been guilty of this offense myself, I admit my guilt. I often say, "I love Mexican food," or, "I love my truck." Love, however, is not just a happy feeling we get when something nice pleases us. Love is a verb. Love is the action of giving yourself totally to one person without expecting anything in return. Love is being willing to put aside your own needs in order to meet the needs of others. Giving up your weekend trip to the beach in order to take care of your sick mother is one example of love. A destitute mother giving up her one piece of bread to feed her sick little boy is another example of love. The ultimate expression of love is being willing to lay down your own life in the place of another. Love is giving, not getting.
Too often our love is conditional. We often hear, "I will love you if you meet my needs," or, "I will love you...
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...n who did just that. Two thousand years ago, on a hill outside of Jerusalem, Jesus of Nazareth was nailed to a cross. Three nails brutally pierced his hands and feet. Being a Christian, I believe that Jesus died on that cross to save me from an eternity in Hell. Jesus laid down his life in my place. This is the greatest love anyone has ever shown me, and my definition of love comes straight from that historical death.
Would I lay down my life for anyone? I would consider going to the gas chamber in the place of very few people; this would be the ultimate test of my love. However, there are smaller ways that love can be shown. Washing dishes for my girlfriend, babysitting my niece, or even taking my mom out to eat are three small ways of showing my love. The next time I tell someone that I love them, I will be sure to follow through with the actions to prove it.
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