And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love, but the greatest of these is love.
I Corinthians 13:13
People constantly fall in and out of "love" with each other, with things, with places. We base love on personal circumstance and human emotion, but true love is far from circumstantial. True love is an action. True love is knowing everything there is to know, seeing every thing there is to see, and CHOOSING to love anyway.
When I study the Old Testament, I am constantly reminded of God's true love. His chosen people caused a lot of trouble for themselves. They were whiny, selfish, unfaithful, and full of disbelief. Despite these unbecoming characteristics, God CHOOSE to love them anyway. He consistently provided the means and the methods for them to escape the sticky situations they found themselves in, and He always kept in mind the covenant He made with them despite the fact that they always seemed to forget. I love to see in the Books of Prophets when He sends warnings to them, reminding them they are out of covenant and practically pleading for them to return, how He always remembers what He promised them. My favorite is in Jeremiah. The whole first part of the book is God instructing Jeremiah to let Israel know He is sending an army to defeat and capture them because they have turned from Him. He says the nation will be destroyed at the enemy's hand, and the people will be taken captive. Finally, though, we see that true love. God said there will come a time when the people would be released from captivity and gather together again in their homeland. When I read those verses, I couldn't help but smile and think, "He just can't help Himself." That, my friends, is true.
God can't help but truly love His people, including you and me. He sees everything. He sees every choice we make, all of our bad habits, negative attitudes, and unbecoming characteristics, yet He CHOOSES to love us. Because of that love, He sent Christ, His Son, to die for our sins, to free us from the bondage of our flesh, and to heal our lives. There is nothing greater than true love.
One of the most beautiful things about God's CHOOSING to love us is that it gives us the ability to CHOOSE to love others. So often, we make love a circumstantial emotion. If someone treats us the way we want them to or lives up to the expectations we have for them, then we can show them love. Remember that God doesn't do this for us, and this shouldn't be the way we love others. When we are filled with God's love, we are also filled with the desire to pour that love out on others. True love isn't about someone else doing or saying the right things; it's about us CHOOSING to love despite others' actions or abilities and despite our own emotions.