What Love is Not

Prodigal:  Sometimes I am confused, and unsure what love really is, and how to love others.

Me:  There has been a lot said about love, but maybe this will help.

This is from the book Bold Love by Dr. Dan B. Allender & Dr. Tremper Longman III

The “take-care-of-yourself” movement had led many to justify self-centeredness.  And yet, this approach has recognized many significant problems with the traditional understanding of love and forgiveness.  The take-care-of-yourself movement properly refuses to think of dependent, fear-based compliance and rescuing behavior as love.  I could not agree more.  Love is far more than merely doing the right thing; in fact, many relationships are so bound by guilt, fear, and neediness that true love is impossible.

For example, many people ignore the harm done to them and call it “forgiving” the other.  In fact, one reason it may be ignored is the fear of causing conflict.  When fear of the other is the undergirding motive for turning the other cheek, it cannot be called love, or forgiving the other.  A lot of activity that is seen as spiritual is infused with fear, pretense, and ritual.  The take-care-of-yourself movement accurately sees the potential for what appears to be loving behavior to be based on a heart that is not concerned with love , but with protecting the self or others from difficult truths.

The two options discussed are not without merit, but both leave me empty.  The first minimized pain, and the second undervalues sacrifice.  Something is wrong with our understanding of love and forgiveness if popular teaching encourages this.

Titus 3:6

whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior,

Jennifer Van Allen



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