Everyone at a seminar was given a pack of little cards which read, "You are loved." Their assignment was simple: give away all of the cards over the weekend and, as you do, give the energy of your love with it.
Cards were put into letters, some were left with tips at restaurants, others were put anonymously in people's books and on their desks. The cards were symbols of love expressed, and everyone felt good getting one. It was the givers, however, who felt the best. To them, it was a renewal of a connection with love, and each time they left a card, they allowed this connection to become stronger—and it felt so good.
There seem to be three main types of love. One can be called a sensual love. This is a love that is chiefly self-centered. It is love expressed for the sake of physical pleasure or personal fulfillment. It is a selfish love. "I love you only because it makes me feel good." We love someone else only to make us feel good, or we love someone in order to draw attention to ourselves. These kinds of relationships, based on sensual love, are doomed for disaster.
Another kind of love is conditional love. This is love based on a quid pro quo. "If you love me, I'll give you my love." Love is not given freely but is, in a sense, bartered. Loving or withholding love depends on whether and/ or how the love is returned by another person.
The third kind of love, the purest form, is Christ love. This is love for the pure joy of loving. Christ love is completely unconditional and instinctive. It is love that recognizes it doesn't need anyone for it to bubble freely and spontaneously from the wellspring of all love, which is the presence of God within one. This is the love that Jesus taught and practiced. This is the love felt by the people who gave away those cards saying, "You are loved."
The essence of Christ love is: "I am love."
Loving people don't strive for love, they allow love. If you think of the most loving people you know, chances are they are not trying to love. They are simply being true to what they are, and what they are is love.
Love expressed fully and unconditionally is the only love, yet not everyone always expresses such love. We too often allow others to fool us into thinking that we should withhold love from them. They put on masks of anger and assume postures of hatred to trick us into giving them only conditional love or, worse, no love at all!
Whenever people treat us in an obnoxious way, it's important to love them. Certainly it's easy to judge them as not worthy of our love, but in withholding love from them, we are first depriving ourselves. Are we unworthy too?
If you are in doubt about loving someone, remember Jesus' admonition: "As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me" (Mt. 25:40).
The degree to which you can let your love flow unconditionally in all directions is the automatic built-in gauge of how you are letting God express in your life. Your love quotient is never higher than the least amount of love you give to some person, no matter how much you think you are loving someone else.