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The Meaning of True Love

By:Ada McKay
Date: Mon,28 Jan 2019
Submitter:Ada McKay

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The word “Love “ is a word that is so much overused in our language that it has lost it's true meaning. How often do we use the word in everyday conversation - “I love your new car”, “I love that programme on TV”, You'll love this book”, and so on but this is not the real meaning of the word. True love is when a person is willing to give up something really precious for another person. True love always pays a price. One example of this would be when someone - usually a family member - donates a kidney to a relative who would otherwise die. Have you heard the story of the little boy who was asked to give his blood to his sister to make her better? He said yes but being a child he did not really understand. He thought he had to give all his blood away and, as the transfusion was taking place, he asked the doctor when he would start to die. Surely an example of the greatest love of all is when one person is willing to sacrifice their own life to save another. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. {John 15:13} This is very evident in war where soldiers risk their own lives to aid comrades and perhaps in so doing make the ultimate sacrifice.

When I was a child attending Sunday School I remember being told a certain story which illustrated the meaning of true love. A desperately poor young married couple wanted to give each other a Christmas gift. The husband had a watch -a family heirloom - which he prized greatly but it lacked a watch chain. The young wife had a head of luxurious long hair but no hair combs to keep it in place. Unbeknownst to one another they each sold their most prized possession. The husband sold his watch to buy the hair combs and his wife sold her hair to buy the watch chain. My Sunday School teacher explained that this was true love. I have recently discovered the story on the internet. It is by O.Henry and it is called “The Gifts of the Magi.”

There are many different types of love and mother love is accounted one of the strongest of all. Surfing the internet for stories of mother love I came across the following true heartbreaking story taken from the Holocaust. A family of four were put in a German Concentration Camp and told they would live as long as they could work. If not they would be exterminated. The youngest son David was a frail boy and the family feared for his life. One day the father returned to the camp from his work and looked for his family. Only the elder son Josh was there weeping bitterly. “Where is David” asked the father “and where is your mother?” Josh replied “Today they came for David because he was not strong enough to work. He was afraid and cried. Momma said “There is nothing to be afraid of David and she took his hand and went with him.” I am sure this is only one of countless stories of mothers sacrificing their lives for their children. However it is the animal kingdom who put humankind to shame in this respect. In my book I quote the case of the gardener burning garden rubbish and unable to set alight one of the bushes. Parting the bush he found it contained a bird's nest and there was the mother bird with her wings spread protectively over her little ones, willing to sacrifice her own life for her babies. Then there is the true tale of the cat who returned again and again to a burning building to carry her kittens to safety one by one. Animals do not kill or abuse their young as humans do. Remember the abuse suffered by Baby Peter. Remember the Philpott children who died in a house fire deliberately started by their parents and there are many more that we read about in our newspapers.
Another kind of love is patriotic love for your own native land. “I vow to thee my country, all earthly things above, entire and whole and perfect the service of my love.” {Sir Cecil Spring-Rice}. It is fine to be proud of your own country and nationality but not if it makes you feel superior to other nations. When we sing a song referring to another place I think we all mentally put in the name of our own home town. Soldiers of the 1st World War singing “It's a long way to Tipperary” were not all thinking of Ireland but of the city, town or village in the UK they called home. Similarly “Edelweiss, bless my homeland for ever” we are not thinking of Austria but of our own country. There are many songs which can stir our patriotic fervour in this way “Land of my heart forever - Scotland the Brave.” “There'll always be an England” “God Bless America, my home sweet home.” Rudyard Kipling expressed it thus “God gave all men all earth to love, but since our hearts are small, ordained for each one spot shall prove beloved over all.”

The love of freedom is another type of love closely associated with patriotic love and wars have been fought throughout the centuries by freedom fighters to rid their own country of invaders. Many have sacrificed their life for love of country. In Britain's darkest hour Winston Churchill made his great patriotic speech to the nation. “We shall defend our island whatever the cost may be.…We shall fight on the beaches, We shall fight on the landing grounds, We shall fight in the fields and in the streets, We shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender.” May we always remember the sacrifice made by our armed forces who laid down their lives to preserve our country's freedom. “When you go home tell them of us and say for your tomorrow, we gave our today.”{John Maxwell Edmonds, 1875-1958}

The love of material possessions is another love felt by many and it is one that all Spiritualists are warned against. Of course we all have our favourite possessions that we love and prize perhaps because they have a sentimental association for us. However many people place too much value on their possessions and use them as a status symbol in their lives - homes, cars, Rolex watches, diamonds. How can you love things that have only a monetary value? It is the childhood teddy bear with its torn ear and missing eye that is loved devotedly during a lifetime. The cheap brooch or string of beads that was a child's first gift to a mother and other similar objects with little or no monetary value at all which are so precious. You cannot put a price on love.

Of course the love that we are most familiar with is marital love, the love of one human being for another. A marriage is a public declaration of love and the vows which a bride and groom repeat at their wedding emphasizes this great love. “To have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part.” Our world today with all the divorces, separations and relationships no longer reflects these high ideals. History abounds with great love stories. The Book of Genesis (chapts 29 - 35) in the Bible tells us of the story of Jacob and Rachel. Jacob worked for 7 years for Rachel's father to be allowed to marry her. He was tricked into marrying her sister instead and he then went on to work another 7 years to obtain his true love. I wonder how many in today's world would wait 14 years to marry the one they loved? Then we have the story of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Victoria was only 21 when she married Albert and they were a devoted couple, Albert died of typhoid fever when he was 42. The queen's unbearable grief caused her to mourn him for the rest of her long life and she always wore black. One of the most famous monuments in the world was inspired by marital love. It is the Taj Mahal in Agra, India erected by the Shah Jahna 1st to pay tribute to his wife, a Persian Princess whom he loved more than life itself. Moving to more modern times we have a great love story in our own royal family which caused a king to abdicate his throne because he would not rule the country “without the help and support of the woman he loved.” It should be remembered that some animals mate for life and one will pine to death when losing a partner.

What does the Bible tell us about love? In Chapter 13 of the 1st Letter to the Corinthians St Paul covers the subject of love and this famous passage is often read at wedding ceremonies. It is the greatest exhortation of the true meaning of love and is perhaps something that all of us should read and re-read as we go through life. Among other things St Paul tells us that love suffereth long and is kind, is free of jealousy envy and pride, is unselfish, hates evil and is honest. Love hopes, perseveres and triumphs and finally that it is greater than either faith and hope. It ends with “Now abideth faith, hope and love but the greatest of these is love.”

Finally what about our love for our God? A lawyer asked Jesus what is the first and greatest commandment and Jesus replied “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul and with all thy mind and the second commandment is thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” Jesus had taken his reply from the Law of Moses as found in Deuteronomy 6:5. Sadly today there are so many different religions and so many sects of each religion that each thinks of their God in a different way and follows a different path of worship. Even more sadly they think that theirs is the only and right way to worship God and many feel that they must kill those they think of as unbelievers in order to find favour with their God. Spiritualists know that there is only one God for everyone and that “He loves each and every one of us as if there was only one of us to love.”{St Augustine}. The Salvation Army has a children's hymn the chorus of which is “ God loves everyone and God loves me.”

Until the whole world learns the true meaning of love and acknowledges the right of all earth's inhabitants (including the animal kingdom) whatever their race, religion, and nationality, to live out in peace and happiness the life that God has given to them, only then will we see heaven on earth.

I am offering a free copy of my book “Why I am a Spiritualist” to anyone interested. Please contact me by email [email protected]

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