So… you see a girl (or boy… if you’re a girl) walking across the playground at school. They glance over your direction, only to see you staring right at them with a stunned look on your face! You quickly pretend that you are looking at something else! You start to sweat a little… you try to play it cool, but on the inside your guts do a triple somersault, with a half twist and a few pirouette’s for good measure. Then as she wanders into the distance giggling with her friends, you’re left sitting there like an idiot, with a billion thoughts and feelings pulsing through you, most of which are confusing, and you have no idea what to do with… you know you like her… but is it more than that? Do I love her? Or is it just that you think she’s hot? How do you tell the difference between Love and Lust?
Although we can often get the two confused, the Bible is very clear about the difference between love & lust. As Christians, we need to make sure that we work hard at understanding the difference, because the outcome of loving someone is vastly different from the outcome of lusting after them! So here is how we can identify love & lust, and work out the difference between them.
There is quite a lot in the Bible about love. As a matter of fact — according to Matthew 22:34-40, every command that is written in the Bible stems from love! Either loving God, or loving your neighbour (that is, anyone and everyone that you come into contact with). It even tells us about the ultimate example of love in Jesus Christ taking the punishment we deserve by laying down his life for us so we can be forgiven for our sin. But perhaps the most well known passage about love is 1 Corinthians 13 where we get a list of all the things that define what love IS and what it IS NOT. Love IS NOT envious, boastful, proud (self glorifying), rude, self seeking or easily angered, and it doesn’t not hold stuff against one another! Rather, love IS patient, kind, truthful, protecting, and hopeful, it never fails, but always perseveres with the other person, even when it is hard and you don’t really feel like doing it! In other words, love is other-person-centred. It is all about putting the person who you love first, even before yourself… and sometimes at your own expense!
The Bible also says a lot about lust! Proverbs is full of helpful hints & tips and is a must read for every young Christian! Other passages to read are Matthew 5:27-30, Romans 1:18-32 & 2 Samuel 11, where King David lusts after an attractive young girl & ends up breaking most of the 10 commandments in one day! When you read these passages you’ll see that lust NEVER ends well, and that’s because it stems from a sinful heart. At the core of lust is selfishness, disrespect and a lack of self control, none of which are valuable characteristics in God’s eyes. Lust is self-centred. It is all about putting your desires first, without giving a thought to the person that you are lusting after. This generally plays out differently for guys and girls. Usually guys lust after the physical i.e. what they can see or touch, whereas for girls it’s usually more emotionally based i.e. what makes them feel good or special. But of course, everyone is different and this is not always the case for everyone.
The difference between love and lust is the attitude of your heart. If you’re in love, the attitude of your heart is one of selflessness, with the other person as your focus, whereas if you are in lust the attitude of your heart will be one of selfishness, with yourself as the focus. True love is driven by a godly desire to provide for, nurture and care for the other persons needs, whereas lust is driven by an ungodly desire to provide for, nurture and care for our own sinful passions. When you love someone you choose to stick with that person at the expense of all others, even when it’s hard and you don’t want to! When you lust after someone, you get angry and throw in the towel as soon as you don’t get what you want, or you manipulate them until they do what you want them to do.
So… if you find yourself wondering about whether or not you’re in love, ask yourself “what is my heart attitude towards this person? Is it one of selflessness or selfishness? Am I willing to put the hard yards in, even when I don’t really want to, or will I probably throw in the towel when things get tough? Do I want to invest into this person, or is it just about fulfilling my human desires?” The answer to these questions will be a sure indication of whether you are in love, or lust.
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