How to Be a Great Lover

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A few years ago I ran across an advertisement for a love potion.   
It was called Love’s Bouquet.  At the top of the ad were four exciting words:  Never Be Lonely Again!  Further down it read:  “Just a touch or two of this powerful love-potion-in-a-bottle is all you need to captivate a new partner or revive a flagging romance.
Love’s Bouquet, according to the ad, contains a fiercely irresistible chemical formula which drives people of the opposite sex to you without conscious awareness on their part.  “They can’t help themselves.  Age or appearance doesn’t matter!” 
The ad included this testimonial from a woman named Jennifer who lives in Wisconsin:  “Men who were shy are now genuinely unable to stay away from me.” 
The possibilities for this product seem endless.  Is your church wrangling over theological issues or the color of the carpet in the parlor?  Just add a few drops of Love’s Bouquet to the communion wine. Conflicts will dissolve and worship attendance will skyrocket.
If only it were that easy.
Real love is not about chemistry.  And it’s not about feelings.  It’s not a tidal wave of romantic sentiments that washes us helplessly from one experience to another. 
If there really is a potion that drives other people to our sides apart from their consent or conscious awareness, then what is driving them is most certainly not love.
Twenty-three times in the New Testament followers of Jesus are commanded to love each other.  Can feelings be commanded?  Absolutely not.  But behaviors can be commanded and attitudes can be intentionally cultivated.  According to Scripture, love means seeking the good of other people even if we never have warm or positive feelings toward them.
For many of us, that will include family members.  It certainly includes people who insist on treating us as if we were their enemies.
“Great lovers” aren’t those who can’t stay away from each other.  They are people who, by God’s grace – and according to the celebrated words of the apostle Paul in I Corinthians 13 – learn to keep a lid on their anger.  Who are patient longer than they ever thought possible.  Who get excited about somebody else’s big day.  Who refuse to keep records of emotional hurts.
Love, in other words, comes down to seeking somebody else’s highest good – just as God is always seeking our highest good.
And that’s wonderful news. 
Because if real love is a choice, any one of us can become a great lover. 
Just the same, it might be wise to steer clear of women from Wisconsin named Jennifer.