John I

I John 4-5 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: God is love

My husband performs a beautiful wedding ceremony for young couples.  What I enjoy most about it is his challenge to the bride and groom about the kind of love on which they should base their marriage.  The English language has one word for love.  We love each other, we love chocolate, and we love sports.  Many other languages have several words that differentiate the type of affection being expressed.

In his wedding ceremony, Tom explains the four Greek words for love and how they apply to a marriage.  Eros is a sensual or passionate love and is conditional on how someone makes us feelPhileo is a friendship love and is contingent on similarity in interests or direction.  Storgē is the love shared within a family based on the family ties.  While these forms of love are valid, they are all conditional on something, and when the conditions no longer exist, so often neither does the love. 

Agape is unconditional, supernatural love that exists regardless of flaws and weaknesses in others, regardless of affection, regardless of love offered in return.  This love is higher and more perfect than any love that man can achieve by himself.  This love is God’s pure, selfless unaffected love, and John writes all about it today. 

@ I John 4
“God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” (9-10)  In verses 7-21, John expressed the agape form of love 27 times, and knowing this helps us to understand that the love John is talking about is not love that we can achieve through our own desire or works.  We need God’s help.

“God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.  And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the Day of Judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.” (16-18)  As we follow the Lord and become more like Him, our love becomes more like His – pure, selfless and unaffected by the behavior of others.  It was God’s love that allowed Jesus and Stephen to forgive those who were killing them.  We won’t live with a fear of man, with fear of the future or with fear of judgment when we are filled with God’s agape.

The more we know Him and surrender every part of our life to Him, the more our human love changes to His perfect love, “our love grows more perfect.”  It is through His perfect love that we are able to love others with the pure, selfless love of I Corinthians 13, not only in marriage but in all of our relationships.  “We love each other because He first loved us.” (19)  If we want to know how to love others, love others the way He loves us!

Moving Forward:  May I grow closer to His perfect love today and reflect His love to all those I meet. 

Tomorrow @ Deuteronomy 23-25

I John 1-3 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: He commands us to love others in the same way He loves us

Love makes the world go round…love is a many splendored thing…love will keep us together…he loves me, he loves me not.  There are thousands of songs and sayings on the subject of love.  Nothing makes us feel more content and happy than when we feel loved.  It’s no wonder that John would once again tackle the subject in I John, but he wrote not so much about feeling love, but instead about showing love. 

@ I John 2
“Dear friends, I am not writing a new commandment for you; rather it is an old one you have had from the very beginning. This old commandment—to love one another—is the same message you heard before. Yet it is also new.” (2:7-8)  This commandment actually came from Jesus while He was still on earth, “So now I am giving you a new commandment:  Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” (Luke 13:34)  It wasn’t a suggestion from the Lord or something to be considered.  No, it was a commandment.

Many of our acquaintances are just so easy to love.  They’re kind, generous, funny or just plain lovable, and a commandment to love really isn’t necessary.  But there always are a few individuals that seem to go out of their way to be unlovable, and they are the ones that may require a commandment in order to be loved. “If anyone claims, ‘I am living in the light,’ but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is still living in darkness.  Anyone who loves another brother or sister is living in the light and does not cause others to stumble. But anyone who hates another brother or sister is still living and walking in darkness.”  (9-11)

I really don’t see any loopholes here, and believe me, I’ve looked.  We may not like the things that the unlovables do, but we should love them just the same.  Think of the most unlovable soul in your fellowship in light of this truth:  the righteous, pure and holy God of heaven loves that soul enough to die for him or her.  Who am I that I would refuse to love?  Time and time again I’ve asked God to fill me with love for the unlovable souls who have passed through my life, and the process so often begins with forgiveness. God has been faithful to help me in this because that’s who He is – God is love. 

Moving Forward: Through His grace and goodness, I will love the unlovable today, and I pray they will love me. 

Tomorrow @ Deuteronomy 20-22