February is the month when almost every ministry theme revolves around love. Shades of red are the prevailing colors and hearts are the dominant decor.
The people in our ministries are hungry for love. Unfortunately, the world has sold them a poor excuse for the real thing. And there’s no time when the concept of true love is more misunderstood than Valentine’s Day.
As ministry leaders, we need to be aware of the mistaken beliefs about love. Consider these misconceptions and the truth that corrects them:
- Love is thought of as something that happens to us, but it is an intentional decision.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another” (John 13:34 ESV).
- Romantic love is portrayed as belonging to those who are young. Faithful romance lingers long after our bodies begin to fail.
“So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth” (Malachi 2:15 ESV).
- A loving marriage is often depicted as being all about making us happy. But the Bible tells us it’s a picture of the relationship between Christ and His Church.
“‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:31-32 ESV).
- Love is associated with “whispers of sweet nothings.” But true love is seen as well as heard.
“Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth” (I John 3:18 ESV).
- Hollywood convinced an entire generation that “love means never having to say you’re sorry.” True love means we’re the first to apologize.
“With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2 ESV).
- In our me-first society, the goal of love is to make us feel special, rather than putting the other person’s needs before our own.
“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers” (I John 3:16 ESV).
- Our culture teaches us that we should limit our love to those who love us. The Bible teaches us to love even our enemies.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:43-44 ESV).
- Even in our relationship with God, many believe love is our idea, but love did not originate with us.
“We love because he first loved us” (I John 4:19 ESV).
And the biggest misconception about love?
- Love has been relegated to a mere emotion, but the Bible tells us Love is a Person.
“God is love” (I John 4:8 ESV).
The greatest expression of love occurred when God gave. He gave the life of His Son so we could be restored to Him through the sacrifice of Christ. Receiving His love is what enables us to give others the real thing.
For ministry leaders, being aware of the misconceptions about love is just the first step. To be true to our calling, we cannot leave those around us wallowing in the muck and mire of false impressions about what love is and Who love is. If we truly care about those in our ministry, we will speak the truth in love about love (Ephesians 4:15).
Ava Pennington is the author of Daily Reflections on the Names of God: A Devotional, published by Revell Books and endorsed by Kay Arthur. In addition to writing, she teaches a Bible Study Fellowship class.