We know that the bible says this, but can we really understand it? The fact that we love God because He loved us first? How important is that to remember in our lives? That we don’t get saved and then fall in love with God and then as He sees our good works, He decides that we are worthy of His love in return. NO! He loved us way before we deserved it and way before we knew how to love Him back and how to manifest His love by loving others. Isn’t it tempting to roll your eyes when someone says you should “love your enemies” or “pray for the ones that persecute you”? How in the world are we supposed to love people that hate us and try to harm us? How on earth are we supposed to love strangers? Yep…and there is the point…it isn’t “earthly” possible, but God has shown us how.
God loved us first. Jeremiah was a prophet and the Lord told him, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5 NIV
Although God was telling Jeremiah who he was, this scripture has meaning for us too. It shows us that God does not do anything by accident and that He has a purpose for all of us, even before we get here. The question is…will we fulfill our God given destiny…or not? Think about this in a ‘natural’ sense. God is our Father. He loves us and we can compare that love to a Holy kind of parenting. Now think about a mother that gives birth to a new baby. Imagine that scene, in the hospital…when the doctor hands this mother her child. That baby has no idea what is going on at that moment, they have no clue who this person is that is holding them and they certainly don’t have a concept of love. This new mother however, holding this child, is now feeling this surge of emotion unlike anything she has ever felt before. LOVE! Over time, parents demonstrate unconditional love. A child learns that his mother is the one that provides for his needs. A daughter learns that her father is the one that she can run to when she is scared, in trouble or hurt. A mother is the one that will fight for her children when they are mistreated. Parents are the ones that forgive over and over even when children make the same mistakes. Parents show love…and in turn it teaches children to trust, depend on and LOVE back. See how that works? Our heavenly ‘Parent’ loved us first…
Before we knew how to love. Before we deserved it. In the beginning. While He formed us in our mother’s womb…He loved us and He knew us. He even gave His child as a sacrifice so that we could be safe in eternity. Just as a parent loves their child, God demonstrates unconditional love to us and we learn to trust Him, to lean on Him, to run to Him when we are in trouble; with child-like trust and awe, we learn to love Him back because He loves us so much.
Nothing can make your “Parent” stop loving you! The bible says so…38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39 NLT
Now the tricky part to all of this is how are we supposed to take this perfect love that only God seems capable of and the way we feel about Him and turn it on to folks we either don’t know or don’t like, can’t trust and who don’t give hoot about us? Did you know that love is an action-verb and not a mere emotion? Yes, there are things that you must NOT do and DO to effectively love others. We can start with the things that love is NOT all about. (You can find all of these in the bible in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.)
Love is not envious. It does not brag or boast. Love is not proud. Love doesn’t dishonor others nor is it selfish and self-seeking. Love doesn’t get angered easily and it doesn’t keep records of wrongdoing and bad behavior. Love doesn’t take pleasure in evil or other’s misfortune. So if you find yourself doing any of this to your family, a friend, a co-worker or even a perfect stranger…it’s “no Bueno”! These are not lovable actions people! Yes, I know we ALL do this stuff from time to time, we are human, it happens. After all, who can remember not to get mad ever or not to remember that someone you just ran into cussed you out last week? So when you find yourself in a love-less action, here’s what you do: Stop…Think…Repent to God…Apologize to the person…and keep it moving. No one is perfect, but believers ask God for conviction (which is like a reprimand or a correction) in their heart when they are wrong, and this will help you go through the steps of correcting your behavior and moving on without guilt.
Now for the stuff that Love IS! Love is patient. Love is kind. Love rejoices with truth. Love always protects. Love always trusts. Love always hopes and always perseveres. Wow…so yeah…all of that stuff that makes us feel good when others do for us, but is so hard for us to do for others. I already know how hard this is ya’ll…I struggle like almost daily! Well no…not almost…definitely daily. Lol! This doesn’t mean you have to be everybody’s best friend, nor that you have to hang out with people that are dangerous or toxic. You just want to show God’s love to others at all times. This entails forgiveness. There is a whole lesson on forgiveness coming soon, because that’s another hard thing to do. There’s hope and help and strength to do both though, I promise!
The point I am trying to make is not only about how we love others. It is to help you realize that this “loving” thing is the most important instruction God has given us. If you want to know more about it, read Mark 12:28-34. In it, Jesus is talking to a bunch of religious scholars. They are asking him a million questions, trying to trip him up (which of course didn’t work). One of them asked him, “Which of the commandments is the most important?” Jesus told him that first and foremost, “One must love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” Then he told them that we should “Love our neighbors as much as we love ourselves”. Jesus said that out of all the commandments, there were none more important than these two. So there you have it folks. LOVE. LOVE. LOVE. You cannot claim to be a Christian and you cannot claim to love God if you don’t love everyone else, yes everyone…even the folks that don’t deserve it.
Thank You for loving us so much that You sent Your precious Son here to walk among us, to be human and to suffer, to die on the cross and to rise again three days later for our redemption. We know that He knows exactly what we are going through because He had to endure Satan’s temptations too. Unlike us Father, Jesus never sinned, but You knew that we always would and that we needed Him to survive. We were so lost and we needed Him to give us a way back to You Father. There is no way that can we repay what You have done for us, but we are so grateful Jesus. We love You. Love You more than words can express. Father we give You all the glory and honor and praise for who You are in our lives. Thank You for loving us, even though we don’t deserve it. Thank You for loving us, even when we weren’t ready to accept You. Thank You for loving us, even as we learn to love You back. Father, I ask that You reveal Yourself to anyone reading this blog that longs to know You. I pray that You will shower them with an overflowing sense of Your love even as they are reading these words. Cover them with peace and understanding and give them a deeper desire to be closer to You. I thank You for the opportunity to share with others. In Jesus’ precious name, I pray. Amen.