Charles Stanley - Starved for Love
Do you feel truly loved by someone or just anyone? Or, would you say that you say that you have pursued all kinds of relationships in your life, but you've not found it yet? Maybe you have tried to fulfill that empty place in your life by things. And maybe you've discovered that all the things that you've gathered around you haven't satisfied that. Maybe you've tried to be popular. Maybe you've tried wealth. Maybe you've tried relationships that you knew were not right. You've tried all kind of things to feel loved in your life, but somehow it's still missing; it's an empty part of your life.
Well you might ask yourself the question: do you feel hungry for love? Or maybe I'd put it this way: maybe you feel starved for love. That's what I want to talk about in this message because it's not the will of God that you feel that way. And He's made provisions so that you don't have to feel that way, but that you can experience love with a sense of fulfillment and joy and happiness that you've never known before if you choose that kind of love.
So, I want you to turn if you will to the little book of First John in the Bible, and the fourth chapter in this book. And we'll just read the seventh through the eleventh verses together. And I just want to answer these questions concerning this issue of starved for love. Am I starved for love? If I am, then how do I get that satisfied in life? You may be married or unmarried, whatever the situation may be, but you're still hungering and thirsting emotionally for something down inside. You know there's got to be more to life than you've experienced.
So, beginning in verse seven, "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation or sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another".
So, I ask you again: is there somebody in your life that you could say, "I really love him. I really love her". Or would you have to say: "Well you know, I've got a relationship but I'm not too sure that I would say that it's satisfying love". In fact, the truth is you know whether it is or not. So, I want us to think about something for a few moments. Many people live out their lives and the one thing that's missing is satisfying, fulfilling, genuine love. It's just not there. Then they've accumulated a lot of things, including riches. They may have been married several times or may have several friends, girlfriends or boyfriends, whatever it might be. And yet deep down inside when they walk away, there's something missing. I'll tell you why: because until it's godly love, there'll always be an emptiness in your life. You can't make enough money as a substitute. You can't have enough sex as a substitute. You can't have enough relationships. You can't have enough prestige and prominence, and position and fame, and all the rest. There is absolutely no substitute for true, genuine love, not one whatsoever.
So, I want us to look first of all here, for example, I want us to look at this issue and when we think about somebody who thinks they love, but they know that something is missing anyway. So, let's think about the characteristics of what does it mean to be starved for love? One of the characteristics of somebody who's starved for love is they get involved in all kinds of immoral situations. Why do you think so many people today are committing immorality? Is it because they just love love? No, it's because they're looking, searching, hungering, thirsting for a relationship that satisfies. Now watch this, sex becomes a roadblock to genuine love if a person does not understand what love is all about. They think that's love and they will say, "Well if you love me, you will do thus-and-so". "No, if I really and truly loved you, I won't do anything of the sort".
So, they just confuse genuine love and emotion and sexual fantasy or desire. That can have absolutely nothing to do with love. And one of the reasons that people are in the moral mess that they're in is because they tried to substitute sex for love and say, "Well you know what? I love you and we certainly love each other, therefore we ought to do so-and-so". Well, you have to ask yourself the question, "Do I understand what true, genuine love is really all about"? And oftentimes people who have this starvation for love, are very lonely. Listen, they can be around this person, they can date that person, this and the other and so forth, and somehow nothing satisfies them. Why? Because they're lonely. Listen, the only person that can ultimately satisfy the hunger and thirst of your heart is Jesus Christ.
Now I know you say, "Oh don't give me that". Well you just be honest enough to listen carefully to the full message. You cannot. You will not be satisfied and fulfilled in your life when you reject the very source of love itself given to us in the person of Jesus Christ. Then of course, there are some people, because of a lack of love, they're just angry. They're angry in general. They're angry at this; they're angry at that; they're angry at the other. And it's not because of something necessarily someone's done to them. It's just that they feel angry, why? Because they have this emptiness, this void in their life.
There's something that they know that they need. They don't know where to get it. They don't know how to get it. They don't know who can give it to them. They've tried this, tried her, tried him, tried the other. It's not there. They're angry because here they are years coming on their life and they still haven't felt this genuine satisfaction and completion that they've heard about. They go to church. They hear some sermon about something and they walk away saying, "Yes, but..." Yes, but what? Yes, but they're empty. Are they saved? Well they say they are. And a person can be saved and still feel and starve for this love that we're talking about.
And so, a person's willing to make personal sacrifices to buy love, to purchase it. Now they don't see it that-a-way. And let's be honest. In other words, in their ignorance and futility and frustration and anxiety and saying "You know, I don't know what to do. I've done my best to make him or her love me and I've given them this and I've done that and I've done the other and they still don't get any response," because that is not the way you get somebody to love you. And then of course, a person realizes finally none of these things satisfy. There is a hunger for love. Watch this, that God placed in every single one of us. And while He placed it there, He also placed the possibility of every single one of us feeling completely loved, genuinely loved, satisfied, the feeling that our needs are being met. God has made provision. But if I go at it in some other way than God's way, I'm going to end up empty.
So, I want to give you a definition. And I want to give you something just beyond that and I want to put it on the screen. So, let's just think about what love is. What's the key word in that statement? What's the key word? Look at it. Love is a commitment to the satisfaction, security and development of the one loved and a commitment to the fulfillment of the needs, whatever they are; always asking what's best for the other person. What's the key word in that definition? Commitment. And you see, that's the problem with most people. They don't think about commitment. In other words, their commitment is when they stand before a pastor or a justice of the peace and say "Yes, I do" and he, she says "Yes, I do" and that's about all it's worth. And that's the end of it, not making a commitment. A commitment demands something of me, requires something of me. And if that commitment is true, I'll be faithful to that commitment.
So, let's go back to our passage for a moment here in First John chapter four and look if you will, beginning in verse seven. Or first of all, let's go to chapter three and look at verse one, "See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us," that is, God has bestowed love upon every one of His children, "that we would be called children of God and such we are. For this reason, the world does not know us, because it didn't know Him". So, he says God's bestowed His love upon us. Then if you will look in First John chapter four again, and look if you will in verse seven. Listen to what he says. Watch this carefully. This is the Word of God. This isn't my opinion. This is the Word of God. Listen, "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God". That is its origin. Listen to this, "And everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love". He is the very essence of it.
So, therefore if I'm going to love someone else genuinely, in a way that meets their needs, then I have to be attached, I have to be, I have to be united with the very source of all true, genuine love and that's Almighty God. And the person may say, "Well now, I know a lot of people who are married and they're not Christians and they're very happily married. You don't know that. It may look like it. And all of us have seen people and met people we thought just genuinely love each other and then we get behind the scenes and they hate each other. And yet on the surface, they're just putting on a big, just putting on a big face. They don't really love each other. Listen, there's only one true, genuine love. It's born of Almighty God. He says, "God is love". And if I don't have Him, I may have affection and may have strong affection, strong desire, and all the rest. But the love that satisfies, that completes, the love that fulfills, that builds security and joy and happiness, that's lasting, is born of a relationship with God that then is transferred to my relationship to someone else.
That's what true love is about. This is why when somebody comes to me and says, "Well I'm thinking about marrying so-and-so," my first question is, number one, is he a Christian? And if they say, "No, but he's good. He's fine". And they say, "Give me all these characteristics". And I'll say, if it's a man asking about a woman I'll say, "Is she a Christian"? "Well she's just, she goes to church". In fact, she may be a member of our church. And I'll say, "Well the second question is, 'What kind of a relationship does she have with the Father?'" Two major questions. Don't marry anybody unless you've got the right answer from both of those. And so, what happens is they make decisions not based on true, genuine love. And I had a man to say to me this very week and it was a real blessing to me. We were talking about his relationship to a woman and he was thinking about marrying her and so forth.
Here's what he said: he said, "Now, I'm going to ask her father if I can marry her. I said, "Suppose he tells you 'No.'" Here's what he said: he said, "If he tells me 'No,' I'm going to walk away, because I love her enough not to cause her a problem all the rest of her life with her father and that relationship because I know how important that relationship is". I could have hugged his neck. I mean, that is the right response. Now, if he said 'No,' he may sit down and talk with him later and talk things out and may have changed his mind, but he may not. And so, true, genuine love isn't just meeting somebody's need and trying to make things right and make everybody happy. It's an unselfish sacrificial giving of oneself.
So, ask yourself this question. Do you really love your husband? Don't raise your hand. Do you really and truly love your wife? You're expecting her to meet your needs? You're expecting him to meet your needs? In other words, do you really and truly love them? And I think a lot of people think they're in love and here's what they've decided. Love's not all it's cracked up to be. Well it's not if you leave God out. But if you include Him, oh yes, it is. Now let me say this. People say, "Well you know I don't guess I'll ever be happy because I'm not married".
Listen carefully. If your joy and peace and happiness and love in life depended upon being married, then you know what? Somebody else is determining whether you're, love or not. God satisfies the desires, the hungers, the thirst, the yearning of our heart in wherever He places us in life. And I can say to people, millions and millions of young people who are not married and thinking, "If I don't have marriage and I don't have sex and I don't have this, then something missing in life". Let me say this: God knows how to satisfy every desire of your heart. Listen, He can satisfy you without anybody in the world, no matter what it is. Because He changes your thinking.
And I think many people who think if they don't get married, the world's coming to an end. Let me tell you something. You marry the wrong person, the world will come to an end. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. So, you've got to be careful. Now, I better get on with the sermon. And this is my last point and that is God's provision for those who are starved of love. What is His provision? Well the nature of His satisfying and fulfilling love.
What's the nature of His love? And I'll go through these. And I put these on the screen:
First of all, love is healing. Genuine love can heal all kind of hurts and pains and sorrows in life.
Secondly, it builds our sense of self-worth. When a person is loving and feels love, there a sense of worth about them they don't have when that love is missing.
Thirdly, when a person feels loved, they feel complete emotionally. They don't have to have things. They don't even necessarily have other people. When you feel genuine love that, that God's placed in your heart, it enables us to feel secure, no longer fearful of anything because you have a love that is adequate no matter what you face in life.
Somebody says, "Well, when I face thus-and-so, suppose I don't have somebody there"? You've got Jesus. Listen, no one can do for you what He can do for you. You can walk through things you've never dreamed of with perfect peace, perfect assurance and perfect fulfillment when Christ is the Lord and Master of your life. Love enables us to be kind toward those who don't understand us and who misjudge us. And all of us find ourselves in that position at times. People don't miss, they'll misunderstand us. They misjudge us. They don't quite figure out what we're up to in life.
And so what happens? We can be forgiving. We can love them no matter what they say or what they do. Love enables us to love those who have wronged us. And all of us have been wronged in life about something. And so what happens? We love them anyway, because not loving them doesn't do us any good, nor them any good. And sometimes the person who wrongs you, who senses your forgiveness and feels your love, oftentimes all of a sudden they recognize what's missing in their life. We have a powerful opportunity to share our love with someone else. Then of course, love empowers us to serve others joyfully, but it also helps us to develop an intimate relationship that's real.
Listen, you can have as we said affection, desire, longing and all the rest. But an intimate relationship that's fulfilling, that's complete, that brings joy and happiness and peace in your life that intimacy only comes when Christ in your life enables you to get above yourself and outside of yourself and reach out into the lives of other people and share the love that He has placed in your life.
So somebody says, "All right, that's the kind of love I'm looking for. Where do I begin"? You begin with your personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Listen, you can't reject the very source of love and expect to have it. And I'd like to say it to the whole world: you can't expect to enjoy the love that your heart desires and reject the Son of God. He's the source of it. God is love. When you have Him you have love.
Now watch this: that doesn't mean that soon as you get saved you're just going to love everybody. For example, I was saved when I was twelve years of age. I didn't know what love was about. And so what happens is, when you and I are saved, love, watch this carefully, God plants His love in the heart of a child when they're saved that young in life or later on in life. He plants that love there. Then we, as we grow up and we, as we mature, that love matures. And we begin to understand what love is all about. And so, if a person genuinely is following the Lord Jesus Christ, their capacity to love and to express it is going to continue to grow. You will find yourself loving people, you know what? I couldn't stand that character.
And you think, "You know what? Something's happened to me. I, you know, I love that person now". Why? Because you allowed the love that He placed within you to overcome your feelings and desires that were not loving. Watch this: the deposit of love God placed in your heart the day you were saved, learning to express it, is something we all have to do. And if you don't learn to express it and you don't learn to enjoy His love, you'll take the route we've talked about of things and sex and all the rest. But think about this. You are, watch this, you are a fountain of love if Jesus Christ is within you. You're a fountain of love. And He intends for that fountain to overflow to people all around you.
And when you surrender your life to Jesus, the love of Almighty God placed within you begins to flow from you. And as we said, you'll love people who don't love you. You'll like some who don't like you. You'll be able to forgive easily. You'll find yourself giving to others. You'll find yourself being able to like people you didn't like. But here's what you'll find, to discover. And I know in my own life, I discovered this. I don't know when it happened, but years ago, somewhere along the way. You know, we all grow up sort of selfish, me, myself and I. And at some point in your life when Jesus is the Lord and Master of your life, here's what happens. You can't, there's no, you can't say, "Well here's when it happened or there's when it happened or here's why it happened".
Here's what happens: you just begin to overflow. You start loving people and you watch and you start feeling that love for people. It doesn't make any difference who they are. Watch this, you may not like their ways. You may not like what they do. You may not like who they are. But somehow God gives you this sense of awesome love that you love them. Now will everybody always love each other? No, not till we get to Heaven. So you know what? We're not responsible for people's response. We're just responsible for loving them. Suppose all of us decided today this coming week I'm going to love everybody I meet in some fashion, in some way. It may be a smile, it may be a handshake, it may be a word, it may be help them, serve them. I make myself available for them in some fashion, but I'm going to love somebody all week long. Here's what'll happen: next week you come in here, you'll come in here like this... You know, because you're going to be happy giving yourself away to other people. Just try it.
Now, you may have listened to this and said, "Well you know, I don't know whether that works or not". It's not going to work if you're not a Christian. Listen to me carefully. God wouldn't lie. Jesus wouldn't lie. The way to true, genuine love is through Almighty God, through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who loved you enough to go to the cross and lay down His life, shed His blood for the forgiveness of your sin which means the shedding of His blood paid your sin, debt in full.
And now, if you trust Him as your Savior, sins are forgiven, name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life. You become a child of God. His love is deposited in your life and life is going to change. It doesn't make any difference what else you do. That is the answer and the beginning of true, genuine love in your life. You can't give it to your kids until you do it yourself. Whoever you are and wherever you are, I plead with you in the name of Jesus to be wise enough to make that decision to surrender your life to Him and begin to understand what it means to be fully loving through Christ.
Father, we love you and praise you and bless your holy name. Thank you for loving us the way you do. We would never even think about deserving it. We don't always fully understand it. We just know that it's real. And we give ourselves to you this morning to think afresh and anew about our loving relationship to you and to others and the desire to let that love that springs from you within us flow to everybody around us. For we ask it in Jesus' name, amen.