These are some of the verses I have read this week and they are pefectly timed for Valentine’s Day 2012 🙂 :
1 John 4:7-11:
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”
As I was talking with an AWANA member on my team this past week, he was memorizing his verse, “We love because He first loved us” – 1 John, 4:19, and we talked about the fact that we cannot love others without first knowing how MUCH we are loved by the heavenly Father first. As I was talking to him about it, God reminded me that when I really struggle to love others, it is oftentimes when I am feeling unloved by Him. Sometimes I have a misperception of His love; othertimes, I just feel unworthy of His love, othertimes, I simply just cannot grasp how great the love is of the Father in Heaven. His love is agape love and it is perfect love. We CANNOT love other people with real love, without tapping into that love of the Father. We can be confident, that if we know Him, He lives in us and His love is made complete in us. I pray every day that God help me love others more. It is His will for me in every moment–I can glorify Him the most by being satisfied in Him (feeling loved!) and by loving others.
1 John 4:16-21: “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”
It is easy, I think, to get into a pattern of feeling punished by God (especially when feeling like His hand might be heavy on me for some reason) and to begin to fear Him because of punishment. How can you love someone who punishes you? You fear them, you don’t love them. God disciplines us, because He loves us, but He doesn’t want us to fear Him because He will punish us. He wants us to fear Him (a different kind of fear!), out of reverance and awe and love (the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom)…but it is a fear in the sense of WHO He is…not what He will do to punish me for failing Him. The more I come to know God and His ways, the more I feel secure in His love. And the more I feel secure in His love, the more I can love others. And the way to come to know God more is through His Word and through prayer, and charting answers to prayer, etc. It is a relationship…an intimate, beautiful relationship. Unlike any other.
1 John 4:19: “We love because He first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.”
There is no room for anything but love for our brothers and sisters in Christ. We simply cannot have room for anger, hatred, malice, slander, etc. It is impossible without the love of the Father flowing through us because we sin against each other and are sinned against. The only thing to overcome all of that is the love of God. I think I am coming to an understanding that I simply am incapable of loving others fully, the way I want to love….and am going to move past the guilt and simply ask God over and over to come into my heart and love for me. It is only by His love that I can love in the first place. It is humbling. I want to be able to naturally love others more! But, I am a sinner and God’s love is made perfect in me in loving others for me. I cannot do it (or anything!) without Him enabling me. And His love is wonderful.
The above verses helped me understand God’s love for me and God’s desire and will for me to love others, and the last verses are about how I can love Him:
-1 John 5: 3: “This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes this world.”
-2 John 1:5: “I ask that we love one another. And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.
I can love God and others by obeying His commands. If I don’t obey, I am not showing love to Him!!! There are other things that are pleasing to God, through obeying His commands, like praying unceasingly, giving thanks (the fruit of our lips), and taking care of the poor, widows, orphans, suffering, and being joyful (among others)…but these are all part of obeying his commands. They come from an obedient heart. They naturally overflow from an obedient and willing heart.
This Valentine’s Day (week), I want to show my love to others in a variety of ways. God has shown me specifically how to show my love to several people in my life right now…all in different ways….according to their needs….and I am most grateful for His insight into how to love others more deeply and effectively.