Minister’s Message: A third way of loving: Putting others’ needs before our own

As we prepare for Valentine’s Day, we may be thinking of the first two definitions for love.

  • By Rev. Andy Carlson, Sr. M.Div.
  • Friday, February 7, 2020 12:10am
  • Life

“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 13:34ESV)

There are three Greek words used for love in the Bible: one is romantic love (root of the English word erotic), another is love for others (root of the English word charity), and the one most often used is a sacrificial love or giving of oneself for the needs of others (not the first thing that comes to mind when we think of love).

As we prepare for Valentine’s Day, we may be thinking of the first two definitions for love. Maybe we are missing out on the third definition in our relationships with our “valentines.” For the Greeks this was the greatest expression of love. It is also the most difficult. It is forgetting about ourselves and putting our loved one’s needs before our own. This really works! I am no expert at this, but I have been married for 33 years.

In our relationship with God the third definition for love is used exclusively. God loves us or puts our needs first.

We in turn put other’s needs before our own. The focus of worship is on Jesus and his expression of love for us on the cross. The arms open wide remind us of how much he loves us. The cross reminds us of how far God would go to show us He loves us. We receive God’s gifts to us in the mysteries of baptism and the Lords supper. We respond to God’s love songs and prayer.

We live out our faith as we forget about ourselves and serve others in our various callings in life (husband, wife, parent, employee, etc.) as we serve others and care for their needs.

I am truly blessed with a wife who has loved me for 33 years. I am also blessed to be loved by God and transformed by His love for me.

My prayer for you is that you may experience this love in your relationship with God and others in your life — especially your “valentine.”

Pastor Carlson grew up with 22 siblings in a log cabin in the backwoods of Alaska (120 miles from the Arctic Circle). He has served 23 years in the parish (five of those years were as a Navy/Marine chaplain). He is a Gulf War Veteran. He has served Funny River Community Lutheran Church since 2015. Sunday services are at 11 a.m., followed by a lunch that everyone is invited to. The church is located at 15 mile Funny River Road. (Take a right on Rabbit Run and go a ¼ mile to the church). The church website is www.funnyriverlutheran.org.

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