What Does Real Love Look Like?

Have you ever wondered what real love looks like? I’ll bet you know for sure what it doesn’t look like!

When queried about the greatest commandment, Jesus was quick to reply that loving one’s neighbor as  one’s self was a close second to loving God with all of one’s heart. Admittedly, this type of love has a few loopholes. Some of us don’t seem to like ourselves very well. There certainly is no scarcity of self-condemnation among Christians these days. And so with only a little manipulation we’ve managed to translate “love your neighbor as yourself” into “just do the best you can in being nice to others.” This, of course, is doable most of the time—that is unless I dislike the other person or I have a bad hair day—at which time God graciously winks at my failure, because after all, nobody’s perfect.

But then, just after His betrayal by Judas, Jesus went and upped the stakes!

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35 (NASB)

Either Jesus didn’t have bad hair days or He didn’t allow them to influence His attitudes and actions. Jesus always loved others. No loopholes! The truth is that real love isn’t interested in loopholes even if they do exist.

Something tells me that most people tend to view a covenant as a super-glued commitment. We may dislike each other, but we signed on the dotted line and so we’re in this together come hell or high water. Such a perspective totally misses the essence of a God-inspired covenantal relationship. Real love is what makes a Biblical covenant work.

Long before he became the king of Israel, David entered into a covenant with Jonathan, the actual heir to Saul’s throne. God knit their hearts together and Jonathan was willing to surrender his right to the kingship because he recognized God’s call on David’s life.

Years later, after Saul and Jonathan had died in battle, David asked, “Is there yet anyone left of the house of Saul that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” 2 Samuel 9:1 (NASB)

David found Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s crippled son who had nothing to offer the king except possible competition for his throne. Rather than kill the potential competitor as kings are wont to do, David lifted Mephiboseth out of the mouth of shame (the probable meaning of his name) to a place of highest honor and treated him as one of his own sons.

The Hebrew word translated as “kindness” is chesed, which has no good equivalent in English. In addition to kindness, various versions translate it as love, mercy, faithfulness, lovingkindness, steadfast love, faithful love and unfailing love.

Chesed is a real, devoted love based on a prior relationship; a love that forever looks for opportunities to help and to bless. David’s covenant love for Jonathan led him to seek out and honor Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth.

Where did David get this type of love? He was shown it by his heavenly Father! Chesed permeates the Old Testament, and in most cases, refers to God’s love for His covenant children—a love that never fails and never fades—and most certainly—a love without loopholes. It’s this type of Gorilla Glue love that Jesus calls us to show to our brothers and sisters in Christ.