How Deep Is Your Love?
“ONCE upon a time,” it is said, there was a young man who told the young lady he was courting: “I love you so much I’d be willing to die for you.” She smiled and then asked: “Honey, where were you last Wednesday evening? I missed you.” He replied, rather sheepishly: “Oh, well, you know; it was raining kind of hard.” He was willing to die for his lady love, but he was not willing to brave the rain to spend an evening with her.
Obviously his love was not very deep. It consisted of words, but his actions did not back up his words. Fittingly the Bible counsels against this kind of love: “Little children, let us love, neither in word nor with the tongue, but in deed and truth.”—1 John 3:18.
Another way that deep love manifests itself is by being loyal. When a friend is slandered, will we court unpopularity by speaking up in defense of our friend? This very matter applies to a Christian’s love for his God. Thus a number of Arkansas natives once were gathered around a campfire and in the course of the conversation one of them made a disparaging remark about God. Another in the group at once spoke up, saying: “Sorry, fellow, but I don’t like to hear you saying something like that. It’s not true. You see, God is my Father and I love him.” His loyalty gave him courage to speak up, giving proof that his love was deep.
How deep our love is can also be seen by how we react when a close friend or relative makes an embarrassing mistake in the company of others. Will we be mortified? Will we be critical? If our love is deep we will minimize or cover over the mistake. Not only that, but we will even cover over sins and shortcomings. How many? The apostle Peter answers: “Above all things, have intense love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.” A multitude is quite a few, is it not? And ancient wise King Solomon went even farther, for he said: “Love covers over even all transgressions.” No doubt about it, if your love is deep you will be forgiving, charitable, merciful, even if you are the victim. As another scripture expresses it: “Love . . . does not keep account of the injury.”—1 Pet. 4:8; Prov. 10:12; 1 Cor. 13:4, 5.
Still another proof of one’s love being deep is that of being willing to counsel someone you know well when he needs to be admonished or corrected. Many parents fail along this line, betraying that their love for their children is shallow. Thus a highly popular and successful American television entertainer and philanthropist admitted that his sons’ turning to drugs was because “we see what is happening but we don’t want to see it, we don’t want to believe it. . . . I excused it.” (New York Times, August 1, 1972) Ancient King David made the same mistake regarding one of his sons, for we read that he “did not hurt his feelings at any time by saying: ‘Why is this the way you have done?”’ And David also reaped waywardness from this son for his negligence in correcting him.—1 Ki. 1:6.
That parental discipline and reproof are evidence of love is clear from the way the heavenly Father deals with his children: “Whom Jehovah loves he disciplines.” That this principle applies to friendships the Bible also shows, for it says: “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.” Superficial friends will shrink from saying anything, but genuine friends with spiritual qualifications will seek to help you get readjusted.—Heb. 12:6; Prov. 27:6, Authorized Version; Gal. 6:1.
The converse is also true. If we have deep love for a friend we will not resent his endeavoring to help us to get readjusted. Rather, we will be like King David when he wrote: “Should the righteous one strike me, it would be a loving-kindness; and should he reprove me, it would be oil upon the head, which my head would not want to refuse.” (Ps. 141:5) All of this, it might be said, has particular force for Christians in their relationship with their God, Jehovah. If our love for him is deep we will not grow bitter because he permits us to suffer hardships and wrongs. Instead, we will react like the patriarch Job, who, in spite of all his losses and sufferings, did not “ascribe anything improper to God.” No, he “did not sin with his lips.” If we manifest such deep love we will be rewarded in due time, even as Job was.—Job 1:22; 2:10; Jas. 5:11.
What is the greatest or deepest love that one could have for another? Jesus said: “No one has love greater than this, that someone should surrender his soul in behalf of his friends.” (John 15:13) That, in fact, is the very kind of love he himself displayed and also the kind of love that Christian husbands are commanded to have for their wives. If you are a husband, do you have such love for your wife?
The Bible also gives a shining ancient example of one who had such a deep love for another, namely, Jonathan, the son of King Saul. After the shepherd lad David had slain the giant Goliath, Jonathan’s “very soul became bound up with the soul of David, and Jonathan began to love him as his own soul.” Jonathan’s love for David did not lessen even when it became apparent that David and not Jonathan would be the next king of Israel. Jonathan repeatedly aided David and even risked his life for David, his father Saul once throwing his spear to kill him because he kept taking David’s side.—1 Sam. 18:1; 20:24-34; 23:17.
The proverb is true: “A friend is a loving companion at all times,” even as was Jonathan. (Prov. 17:17, New English Bible) A friend may need protection from danger or may need material aid, but as often as not he may need encouragement and companionship. If our love is deep we will make sacrifices to supply that need.
How deep is your love—for your marriage mate, for your children, for your parents, for your close friend, for your fellow Christian? To the extent that your love is deep, you will be loyal, covering over mistakes and sins, giving or accepting correction and making sacrifices to express that love.