The Love Series #1
The Value of Love
A teacher who wanted to do her part to avert school shootings asked her students every Friday to make a list of four other students in their class they wanted to sit with the following week and to nominate one student who they thought had been an exceptional classroom citizen. As she looked over the lists, she would take note of which students were never chosen by others, the ones who were left out, rejected, alone, and those who never could think of anyone to request.
Why? Because that observation informed the teacher who may need her attention the most. She was wise enough to know that when people are alone and isolated, it may lead to difficulties in their lives. It might indicate past or current difficulties, and it is certainly a signal of future trouble. This teacher knew that we human beings don’t do our best when we feel alone, but our outlook improves when we are connected to and valued by others.
As a pastor for many years, I’ve been involved with the rejected, the lonely, the depressed, the mentally ill, as well as those who thrive. I’ve watched as people have enjoyed great successes and endured devastating disappointments. And in all of these stages, I’ve concluded that no other experience has more impact on a person’s life—their happiness and health—than success at loving and being loved and feeling valued by oneself and others. Love makes us vulnerable, but it also makes us safe and strong.
Our grandparents knew the life-giving power of long-term loving relationships, and how to develop them. But this generation is experiencing a tsunami of loneliness, anxiety, and depression. We seem in so many ways to be lost in our attempts toward love and commitment, while we exalt emotional independence, self-protection, boundaries, and blame. We’re exhorted to love ourselves first and foremost. We’re becoming distant and dismissive people in spite of our successes in other arenas. People seem to have lost hope in having love relationships. They’re no longer a priority. Some think they don’t have time for them anyway.
We’re in trouble. We have more professional marriage and family counselors than ever before in our history, but often upon discovery, those very professionals have been married multiple times, and their own children are often suffering from anxiety and depression. We have more books written by highly educated professionals and professional educators telling parents and children how to be successful, as those very professionals have often crashed in their personal lives and in their families. That indicates some gaps in their understanding.
We may have lost our way in how to develop healthy relationships, and we’ve minimized the value of doing so.
I believe that we are made in the likeness and image of God, who is three persons in such close relationship with one another that they are one. As a result, we, too, are most natural, healthy, and productive when we are in loving relationships, and we do not function at our best when our relationships are broken, strained, or non-existent.
Bottom line, love is vital to our existence.
From the Scriptures, I have deduced that love is simply living for the good of another. Certainly, love may include compelling emotions and overwhelming feelings, but it is fundamentally logical and understandable. It’s adaptive and functional. Moreover, it’s malleable, repairable, and durable. To me, love makes sense. It can be perceived, felt, known, measured, observed, and grown. What’s most significant is that it gives us direction and helps us find our way.
Since God is love and we are created in his image and likeness, love is a basic survival code, and our brains are created to read and respond to others in order to increase the likelihood of survival as well as other essential tasks with the greatest ease.
In contrast, rejection and abandonment are danger cues that plunge us into real physical pain and discomfort. My experience in my own life and in observing the lives of others is that even the most distressed people can be repaired if they are guided to deal with their emotions and relationships a little differently. The exception would be the truly mentally ill. But if their cognitive abilities are within normal ranges, most people can find healing and satisfaction in life by learning to love and developing themselves so they can be loved.
In conclusion, a stable, loving relationship is the absolute cornerstone of human happiness and well-being. A good relationship is better health insurance than a careful diet and a better anti-aging strategy than taking health supplements. A loving relationship also is the key to creating a family that teaches the skills necessary to support and maintain a civilized society – trust, empathy, and cooperation. Love is the lifeblood of our humanity and our world.
Jesus said, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples” (John 13:35). We all have many ways that we measure our lives. Jesus was exhorting us to measure our lives by our love for ourselves and others.
So the teacher is right: the student that is alone and is not valued by others is in danger. Let’s let the teacher’s wisdom teach us to be intentional in our loving others and in being loved by others. We’re created to do that; we need it.
9 replies on “The Value of Love”
I’ve come to realize that “living for the good of another” is not always something I want to do. For example, there have been times when I have not wanted to put work into my marriage, but at that point, I do it anyway because I know now that the feeling of loving my husband will come back around. For me, love is a promise that I will do everything I can to keep a relationship going, even when the feeling has left. I know that is not a popular opinion, but it has worked for me.
Thanks for your post! I enjoyed it!
Excellent response. I like what you are saying very, very much. I am now a fan of yours!
Your short word on love is something. I agree. Love, the Bible says remains above all else. People do need to feel valued and loved.
“ Amazing love how can it be?
that my king would die for me
Amazing love I know its true…”
Your Blog brought these words to my mind. When we we think of this in the way you define love it becomes so much more real. To live for the good of others, God did just that! The incredible sacrifice of his only Son Jesus for the good of you and me…now that is Amazing Love!
Thank you Ted for your blog! I know that you’ve talked about these things going back many , many years. It is good in this world, during this time period to talk about the one thing that we can all agree on . Amazing Love is the answer for all of us. The Answer to bring about more unity in our nation, in our relationships, and in our friendships is Love . Real uncompromising love is in fact being Christlike, after all God is Love.
I believe we should all take this as a reminder that we need to except others just as they are. A commitment to be that pastor or friend that never turns there backs on others. I think we may not always agree with those around us. The art of living for the good of another involves acceptance, communication, NEVER rejection. Sometimes we may not totally agree. The challenge is to not react with emotion but to work through differences. Amazing Love, wow what a concept !
Excellent response Mitch. You are RIGHT!!!!!
The love of God that has extended forgiveness to us through Jesus is unmeasurable and awesome to meditate on. I’m not alone in reminding myself of the sins that at times seemed to rule my life (yes, even as a believer) causing me to think of the Apostle Paul’s struggles of the flesh he wrote about in Romans 7. I realize when we have ask forgiveness and receive it – our sins God has removed; Psalm 103:12. The importance of training ourselves to be believers that refuse to condemn or judge must be paramount if we expect God to use us in sharing the gospel with others. I’m grateful that I can recall what a sinner I am (past and present) but more so what a great Savior He is in forgiving even me. I rejoice that God is aware of our lives and has a plan for us that exceeds our expectations. Thank you Pastor Ted for the blog; The Value of Love. I purchased a piece of framed art nearly 30 years ago in memory of three siblings gone too soon; To love is nothing…To be loved is something…To love and be loved is everything……..
This comment is thoughtful revelation of an eternal truth that is well written, persuasive, and so powerful. Thank you for taking time to write. You comments compliment my blog and will encouraging. Thank you for writing.
Hi Pastor Ted,
Several quick comments.
(1) Take the teachers experiment one step further. If your goal was to increase the overall friendliness and care of that classroom, who would you work with first? Based on her quick survey, would it be the social chumps, or the social champs?
Three dissertations at my alma mater were done on this specific question, the first lead by an amazing man who counted among his good friends Don Clifton, the founder of Strength Finders.
The correct answer is to actually work with the social champs. You will do more good to increase overall care and concern – love – in that classroom if you reinforce and train the ones who are actually doing this pretty well already.
If you think about that, that’s exactly what the church does for larger society, or for what local churches do for a community, and hopefully, what parents do for their own children.
(2) The crucial case that phileo and agape love is far better than any medicines in most (not all) cases of depression is made by Johann Hari in his important book, Lost Connections. (P.S. Social media doesn’t replicate the same feelings as face to face. Not even close, typically more the opposite.) This is a book about what we have lost, and how to get it back. (Hint: Not another pill.)
(3) The profound beauty of how God graced us in marriage is that as we depend on each other, we actually become more independent. We can leap tall buildings, and fly faster than a speeding bullet, if we are secure in the love of our spouse. And ultimately, ditto if we can grasp – like St. Paul – the unconditional love of the Lord Jesus. Phil. 4:11-13. Most of us need a more tangible person.
This is one more Kingdom of God paradox: Dependence – or interdependence if you prefer – leads to independence. (And most of our pop-culture ideas about co-dependency are simply wrong. Period. Full Stop.)
Criticizing our spouses, or worst of all, scattering the trust of our spouse by threatening divorce, is devastating to God’s design and intent for marriage. First and foremost, we need to trust our spouse will be there for us. Marriage MUST therefore be a covenant, NOT a contract. If marriage is a contract, then I can never fully be confident that my spouse will be there for me, Why? Because I am likely to mess up from time to time.
Thank you Ted for writing about this crucial topic. 1 John 4:7-11.
Thank you for your wise and insightful response. I highly respect you and the way you think. Thank you for being a dear friend.