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What's the Difference Between Lust and Love?

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There is a clear difference between lust and love. God reminds us that lust is something selfish while love is unconditional. Lust isn't something we necessarily desire right away, but once we identify it, we have to do what we can to not fall into it's trap.

Lust Begins with Desire

No one jumps into lust first. It usually begins with a desire for romantic love, sometimes even a small crush, but somehow we end up trapped in lust's vice-grip. Some of it has to do with what we've been taught. If we aren't exposed to health, edifying love, we end up with a twisted view of love to a point where lust seems perfectly normal and acceptable. However, God tells us something different things about love vs. lust in the Bible.

Lust is Selfish

Lust is a selfish thing. When we think of God's version of love, it is selfless and kind. While lust is harsh and abrasive, real love is soft and comforting. Lust leaves us desiring more or something different, but love leaves us content with where we are. Lust does not require intimacy, but love does. Intimacy requires us to put ourselves aside and open up our hearts to another person. That is God's version of love. We are vulnerable, which is why lust becomes easier for people. Lust doesn't require anything from us except giving into the desires of the flesh. It doesn't require us to give anything of ourselves or to open ourselves up. It is just a fulfillment of the selfish need.

Lust Lacks Self-Control

Because lust is a selfish thing, it also requires no self-control. Love does. Self-control is a fruit of the spirit that requires strength we can only get from God. When we wait for love rather than giving into our lustful desires, we are exhibiting the type of self-control God desires of us. It is not to say that self-control is easy. It's actually quite difficult. We are bombarded every day by lustful imagery that tries to tell us to just give in. Pleasure is all we should desire. Yet, look into your heart. What is your heart telling you? Is pleasure of the flesh all we should want? God placed a need for more than fleshly desires on our hearts when it comes to love, and by constantly focusing only on the flesh, we lose sight of the true fulfillment of our heart's desire. When we exhibit self-control, we gain a better perspective on our true, underlying desires.

Don't Encourage Others to Lust

We often talk about avoiding our own lustful desires, but what about when we encourage others to lust after us? Encouraging others to lust is just as much of a sin as us lusting after ourselves. We're encouraged to be modest. This doesn't mean that women wear muumuus and men wear cloaks that cover every inch of themselves. What it does mean is to be considerate of how the way you look or the way you act doesn't encourage others to lust after you. It means not leading others into temptation. Today's fashion often leave little to the imagination, and we have colognes and aftershaves that encourage attraction. While we can't always know what will cause someone to lust after us, we should just make attempts to avoid it as best we can.

Overcoming Lust is Hard

No one said living the sinless life is easy (and we all know this, because none of us live a sinless life). We struggle every day with lustful images, and most of us have given into a lustful thought or action at some point and time. So, we all know that overcoming lust can be hard. We have to do things like avoiding things that trigger lustful thoughts. We need to take a look at how we're approaching relationships to see if we're just giving into lust or if we really think the relationship could form itself into the image of God's love.

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