Browsing through the “Love & Relationship” section of a local bookstore, one can find such titles as Women Who Love Too Much, When Parents Love Too Much, and even, For People Who Love Their Cats too Much. We could easily conclude that it is a grave danger to love too much.
Yet, when we turn to the Bible we realize that Jesus calls us to love others as He has loved us (John 13:34), and to love even to the point of dying for those we love (John 15:13).
But we often find ourselves loving someone in a way or to an extent to which that person does not return our love, and we experience great heartache. Often such “love” takes on a focus that becomes a consuming obsession; it becomes a necessity to us to make that person love us back. Or, even when the one we love does love back, we become obsessed with keeping that love. Surely such a focus is not godly nor healthy for anyone involved. Hence the books on loving too much.
So which should we follow? Are the books in the bookstore right? Was Jesus just setting us up for broken hearts?
The true crux of the problem is not that we love someone too much, but that we don’t love God enough. When we base our sense of well-being on whether or not someone loves us the way we think they should, then we’ve put our trust and security in that someone rather than in the Lord. We can love someone with all our hearts, but if we don’t love God more than that person, we are setting ourselves up for devastation, unless that human is perfect.
Loving is indeed a risk. But for Christians, loving others is not an option if we are to obey our Lord. We have been commanded to love, not just with warm fuzzy feelings, but to the extent of being willing to die for those we love. Yet we can’t seem to take that risk without also obsessing about their loving us back, unless our security is in something greater than that person. There is only One who can give us that security, and that is God. Micah reminds us of this in the following verses:
Trust ye not in a friend, put ye not confidence in a guide: keep the doors of thy mouth from her that lieth in thy bosom. For the son dishonoureth the father, the daughter riseth up against her mother, the daughter in law against her mother in law; a man’s enemies are the men of his own house. Therefore I will look unto the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me. (Micah 7:5-7)
It is disheartening to realize that even those closest to us have the capacity to betray us. But the key is to remember that to whatever extent we love the person we love the most, we must love God more. And to whatever extent we value the love of that person, we must value God’s love more.
Frances Havergal, a single woman who lived in the late 1800s, wrote the following words in her book, Kept for the Master’s Use: “If the love is consecrated, and the friendship takes its stand in Christ, there is no need for the fear that it will become idolatry. Let the love on both sides be given to God to keep, and however much it may grow, the source from which it springs must yet be greater.”
I wonder if she didn’t know the heartache of loving “too much”, and had found the secret of loving God more, when she wrote these last few phrases of the familiar hymn, Take My Life and Let It Be:
Take my heart; it is Thine own; It shall be Thy royal throne,
Take my love; my Lord I pour at Thy feet its treasure-store.
Take myself, and I will be Ever, only ALL for Thee.
If we maintain such a love relationship with our Lord, our love for each other will fall into Godly perspective. And those titles we see in the local bookstore can stay right where they are.