Flipping through the radio stations recently in the car, I heard the words of the 70's song, “Loving you is easy ‘cause you’re beautiful . . .” Which got me to thinking again how we really don’t use the word “love” in its truest sense very often. I might say, “I love my wife’s beautiful hands, or her silly sense of humor.” But love, in the sense of self-giving and self-sacrifice, really isn’t involved in that statement. It’s easy for me to like those characteristics because they’re attractive to me. There’s nothing really self-giving about it, other than perhaps building her up by telling her so.
The truth is that what we really have to love most about our spouses or other family members or friends is their worst characteristics. To truly love them is to give yourself to them in spite of their flaws. That’s where the real self-sacrifice takes place. “Love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8). In that sense, what a wife has to love most about her husband is his laziness and impatience, and a husband his wife’s coldness or crankiness, and a friend the other’s disorganization or tendency to gossip, and so on. What parents really have to love most about their children is not their good study habits and their athletic ability, but their disobedience and disrespect. That’s where the patience is tried and the struggle and the real self-giving love of parenting enters in.
Now I’m not suggesting that wives give their husbands a Valentine’s card reading, “What I love about you is how opinionated you are and that you’ve put on a little extra weight.” But it’s worth remembering that to say “I love you” (in any context) is to say “I’m willing to give myself to you and for you no matter what. I am yours, and my highest desire is for your good and your happiness.”
And there is only one who loves like that perfectly and completely. Only our Lord loved us even when we were sinners and His enemies (Romans 5:8-10). What our Lord most had to love about us was our sin. That is what He sacrificed and gave Himself for on the cross. His love covers the multitude of our sins. There was nothing in us that attracted Him to come to our aid. His own love is what made us lovable and lovely in His eyes. Jesus is the literal embodiment of the love passage in 1 Corinthians 13. Our Lord is patient and kind. He keeps no record of wrongs, for His mercy has covered them and taken them away. We are without flaw and without blemish. His love has made it so.