Thursday, July 25 2024 - 10:11 AM
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Being Real

Being a humanoid and very aware of my propensity to name all good feelings as love, I am thrilled to have stumbled upon a less subjective labeling device. How can I know if the love I give is true love? There are two short questions I can ask myself that will set the record straight.

A Pure Reflection

First, let me remind you that love is a voluntary act of bestowing favor. It is a pure reflection of the giver’s heart. It cannot be earned or incited by the receiver’s performance. Now, if you chew on this a minute, you will immediately become very much aware of how many times our bestowed favor, being earned, is not pure love. Sure it feels like it. But if you did some work to make me feel this way towards you, I have a Pavlov’s dog moment, and that’s as deep as it goes. It can work for us as friends, but it’s a selfish, do-good-for-you-cause-you-made-me-feel-good transaction. True love is not a transaction. It’s a freely given, unusually extravagant gift.

So now, what are those two little questions we can ask ourselves to test our hearts and know that we are loving? They’re not very fun; I’ll tell you that. I read them from the teachings of Ellen G. White, a great spiritual teacher with a prophetic gift. She starts by pointing out how polluted and selfish—though often not obvious to us—our affections can be. Won by stroking our ego, the favor we dole out is often marred by our give-because-I’ll-get exchange.

Two Questions

And what is the litmus test she swears by? First, ask yourself if the favor you are bestowing involves sacrifice. True love is the only thing that will ask of you something that will cost you dearly. If you’re just responding to a good stimulus, there is no way of knowing if you’re actuated by selfishness or love. Sacrificing self cannot be selfish; these two realities are opposed. It is impossible to love in a way that costs you dearly without acting against yourself and your selfish tendencies.

The second question is like the first. Ask yourself if what you are doing involves you acting in humility. In other words, the acts of favor you are practicing, do they lift you and make you feel in control? Or do they call you to be humble? If you are reaching out to someone, and doing so calls for you to show grace where it has not been welcomed and accepted, you are in a good place. Humility is something God prizes more than most good attributes. The Bible says God’s eyes are scoping out the earth looking for humble people.

When I Choose to Be Humble

When I choose to be humble, I am choosing to serve you in a way that meets your needs and not mine. You can see how this would call out a pure kind of heart-love. Not that we are to be used by others, finding our identity in martyrdom. Instead, we are speaking of opening your heart and joy towards those who may not like it, laud you for it, or even accept it. This calls for courage. This is your heart acting out of love with no assurance of anything positive in return.

So there it is. Ask yourself, is what I’m doing calling me to sacrifice and be humble? Yes? Well great! Answer yes to this question, and you can be pretty sure that you are in a place where you can practice love and know that it is of the pure kind. You are in a place where there is nothing but the urging of love as it is in God leading you on and keeping you strong. Yes, and those who are blessed enough to be on the receiving end may not be sane enough to know it, but they are receiving the highest gift a human can give. Love, pure love.

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If you liked this, you might also like What Love Really Means | Why Is Real Love So Rare? 

Claire Worley writes from the North Pacific.

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About Claire Worley

Claire Worley

writes from the Pacific Northwest.

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