“This is how we have come to know love. He laid down His life for us. We should also lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” 1 John 4:16 CSB
I recently watched the movie Book Club about four women who have been meeting monthly for 40 years to have a glass of wine and discuss the current book. Sharon, played by Candice Burgan is a Federal judge who has not had love in her life for 18 years. Her character explores the world of dating after such a long hiatus. In one scene she is attending the double engagement party of her ex-husband to a woman half his age, and their son to the love of his life. She inadvertently gives a speech to congratulate the happy couples, and in it she says, what I thought was a poignant definition of the word love. She says, “Love is just a word until someone gives it meaning.” How right she is.
Over the years, I’ve heard many pastors describe love as a verb; it requires action. But I had never thought of it as just a word until someone gives it meaning. God gave love meaning when He sent Jesus to create a way for us. Jesus gave love meaning in everything He did here on earth. From turning water into wine (John 7-11 NIV), to healing the blind man (John 9:6) to saving the woman caught in adultery (John 8-11), He did it all in love. We give love meaning when we imitate Christ. Mom’s are so good at giving love meaning, they do it so effortlessly. From making their kids breakfast, to washing their clothes and cleaning their rooms, they give love meaning to their children. Husbands give love meaning when they propose to their wives, hold them when they’re sad or celebrate with them when they’re glad. Friends give love meaning when they sit together over coffee, spend hours on the phone talking or just sit quietly together watching the sunset. Until someone gives love meaning, it’s just a word.
Leaving money on a vending machine gives love meaning to a stranger, whether they realize it or not. Praying for someone with a broken heart gives love meaning. Volunteering at a homeless shelter, taking meals to the home bound, sending a card to a sick friend are all ways we give love meaning. When giving the word love meaning by doing something for another becomes a way of life for us, the world becomes a better place. In the midst of darkness, there will be light. Just as there was light when God created the world, His love for us continues to light our paths. When we give love meaning, we’re sharing His light with others. Let’s give love meaning today, whether it’s our family, our friends or a stranger on the street, let’s light their path. Is there anything greater we could do with our lives than give meaning to the word love? God gave meaning to my life when He first loved me, He did the same for you. The least we could do in return is give meaning to love for someone else.