God’s Love is Defining Apr. 9
John 13:34-35; The distinguishing characteristic of Christ’s followers, Our standard is Christ’s love for us. (cf.); John 3:23; 4:7-8, 11-12, 19-21). Lev 19:18; Mt 22:37-39; Mk 12:30-31; Lk 10:27
John 15:12-17: Christ’s love was not only in words but also in his sacrificial death
On the whole, God’s love for us is a much safer subject to think about than our love for Him. C.S. Lewis.
Who is God and what is He like is a resounding question for the ages of humanity. Philosophers and theologians have pondered this for many ages since we were created. And we can know this for sure, who He is, what He is like and how does He express Himself to us? God’s love is defining, because it is who He is. It is a central character and attribute that He has that made and saves us. And His Love confirms the authenticity of us as His followers, because it is an attribute He calls us to emulate.
It is natural to love them that love us, but it is supernatural to love them that hate us.
A relative of mine tells of a story that happened During World War II, Hitler commanded all religious groups to unite so that he could control them. Among the Brethren assemblies, half complied and half refused. Those who went along with the order had a much easier time. Those who did not, faced harsh persecution. In almost every family of those who resisted, someone died in a concentration camp. When the war was over, feelings of bitterness ran deep between the groups and there was much tension. Finally they decided that the situation had to be healed. Leaders from each group met at a quiet retreat. For several days, each person spent time in prayer, examining his own heart in the light of Christ’s commands. Then they came together.
Francis Schaeffer, My relative who told of the incident, asked a friend who was there, “What did you do then?” “We were just one,” he replied. As they confessed their hostility and bitterness to God and yielded to His control, the Holy Spirit created a spirit of unity among them. Love filled their hearts and dissolved their hatred.
When love prevails among believers, especially in times of strong disagreement, it presents to the world an indisputable mark of a true follower of Jesus Christ.
Love, real love must take us beyond ourselves. It is unselfish and surrender and sacrificial as it was with Christ and how He showed His love for us!
Let’s look at 1 Corinthians 13 as how God is and how He deals with us.
God is patient; do you realize how patient He has been with you and with the world? Patient means that our God is a long-suffering God. When God delays His judgment, this means He is demonstrating His love, grace, and forbearance for the consummation of His purpose. We are not swiped away when we deserve it, so let us praise Him for that. We are to take comfort in that He is a God of grace and mercy and is patient with us when we do not deserve it. He seeks our repentance and trust. Therefore, we have no need to be impatient or confused or allow the mocking or misleading of others to distract us from His purpose and plan (John 6:39).
God waits for a reason that we can trust. He lives outside of space and time and is not governed by our physical or temporal laws of physics or humanity. For God, time is totally relative and in the scope of eternity, that God’s view and perspective of things is not our view and the converse thereof. This is an aspect of His sovereignty (Psalm 90:4; 2 Pet. 3:1-18). We have no knowledge of God’s timing! It seems that God is slow to us, but He is in absolute control and we can have patience and trust in Him and His timing. We are impatient with our thinking and expectations, whereas God is patient, allowing His grace and plan to work out. He did this with the nation Israel for thousands of years and He will do it in your life for your benefit. This aspect of His love helps us trust Him, to be obedient and wait actively in His Word and truth.
When God tells us that love is patient, He means love endures a long time. Love helps us endure extreme hardships, keeping our eyes upon our Lord. It is longsuffering, with the focus on accommodating others and not ourselves. So, we can give others room to grow, and time to accomplish the work that God is doing in them. When someone is abrupt with us, or when someone treats us wrongly, we are called to be patient, because we cannot have everything our way all the time, every time. We cannot allow ourselves to become angry when others fail to live up to the expectations that we set for them. When our spouse angers us, or disappoints us, we are not to give up on him/her. Because God is patient with us, and God loves us, then, we are to show patience with others. We need not become angry, but be content, for this is love (James 3:17). Authentic Love endures, never giving up on others!
Think back to what the Lord has done for you, so you don’t forget His grace, His provisions, and His answered prayers and blessings. We are not to be overcome with the struggles of the moment so we do not see how He has brought us through them in the past. We are to refresh our memory in Him.
God is kind, When God tells us that He is kind, He means He looks for a way to be constructive and useful; He invests in us, and declares us valuable. He looks for the best in us. God takes the circumstances of our lives, and uses them in a constructive way for personal growth, and for better support for one another. God is not treating us as an object to be manipulated or controlled, because, He has given us free will too. We should do the same with one another. Therefore, we need to always be seeking the healing of relationships as he heal our relationship with Himself by what Christ has done.
We can respond by bringing out the best out of our friends and family by always treating them with kindness.
(Romans 12:10; Ephesians 4:11-15, 32; Philippians 1:6; 2:13; 1 Peter 4:10; Hebrews 10:24). Authentic Love cares more about others than it does about self!
God does not envy, When God tells us that He does not envy, it mean that His has no jealously or resentment. He truly want the best for us, He wants us to succeed and grow. It means that God is in control, and He has a unique plan for you and me. He means we need to be happy for whom we are, and what we are, and what we can be.
We are not to be comparing ourselves with others, nor are we to be jealous, spiteful, or possessive of others, because,
When we hear that a friend receives a promotion before we do, or gets something we wanted, we are to be happy for him/her. If we have a sibling who excels, we should be happy with him/her. If our neighbor has a brand-new car, we should be happy for him/her, and be thankful for the old wreck that we may drive. When our spouse is doing better than we are, we are to be happy for him/her. In other words, we are to be happy for someone else who has something we do not have, even if we do not like it.
We must not become possessive, or control freaks, especially where it concerns others and our relationship with them. Being possessive, and attempting to control others, will cause the destruction of a church very quickly. We will soon lose our contentment, and run ourselves off into that maze of despair, dejection, and desolation.
At the very least, this will compromise its effectiveness. Love is letting go of our desires and wills for a greater love we cannot receive on our own—grace (Proverbs 14:30; 1 Corinthians 12:15-16; Philippians 4:12-13; James 3:16). Authentic Love does not desire that which it does not have!
God does not boast, When God tells us that love does not boast, He means we are not to go around bragging about our accomplishments and abilities. When this love is working, we will have no desire to impress others. Thinking that we are important is foolish, and distracting to our call and purpose in life. We are not to go around showing off our possessions. In so doing, we are patronizing to those who do not have such things. We are not to be so full of our accomplishments that we fail to see what others have accomplished.
Because God loves us so much, we should have no need to impress one another. We are not to condescend to our spouse, or anyone, for that matter, with pride, criticism, or contempt, nor are we to withdraw from them when we think they do not meet our approval.
We must allow God to impress us with His greatness, because He is God and we are not. We can so relax and enjoy who we are in Christ, and that we are approved by Him, we do not have to be in control or be the life of the party to feel secure. Nor, do we need the say-so of others since we have the approval of God, the Creator of the universe. Love is the security we have in Christ that needs nothing else for fulfillment (Proverbs 13:10; 16:18; Matthew 7:5; 1 Corinthians 12:25-25; Ephesians 3:18-19; 1 John 1:6-7). Authentic Love does not strut around!
God is not proud, in that he does not condescend to us in what we deserve and that is death and judgment.
When God tells us that love is not proud, He means we are not to have inflated ideas about our significance, or ourselves. Being vainglorious is having a conceited mindset—the quintessential thing that God hates the most—so we must not be that way—period! Christ means, we must be willing to be in relationships with all kinds of people, especially those outside our perceived likeness, such as background, and/or race. We must not let our fears hold us back from one of life’s most precious gifts, friendship. Not being proud means that when we make a mistake, we can own up to it, and we can admit that we are wrong. We can go to our spouse with open hands and seek forgiveness. Pride will create contempt, arguments, misunderstandings, resentment, loss of community, and indifference. Because God loves us, He is on our side, and wants us to grow and mature in His love. We do not have to have an inflated ego about the perceived importance of ourselves. We need to seek others first and their well-being, not our arrogance and egocentric mentality (Job 41:34; 2 Chronicles 26:16; 32:26; Psalm 10:4-5; 18:27; 31:18; 56:2; 59:12; 62:10; 73:6-12; 101:5; 131:1; 6:17; Proverbs 8:13; 11:2; 13:10; 16:18; 21:4; 24; 29:23; 30:13; Isaiah 2:11-21; 13:19; 16: 6; 23:9; Ezek. 28:2; Obadiah 1:3; 1 Corinthians 1:6; 2 Corinthians 5:12; 7:4; Galatians 6:4; –and these are just a few!). Love lifts up God, not us. Authentic Love does not puff up the giver, or parade itself!
God is not rude, When God tells us that He is not rude, He means that He treats us with respect and dignity, which we should return. Because God loves us, He sent His Son to cover us, and protect us from His wrath. Therefore, when we make everyday mistakes—or even the big mistakes—lightening bolts do not zap us. Because we are loved by Christ, we are not consumed by God’s wrath, as we deserve.
Our goal is to worship Christ with passion and distinction. When we are worshipful, we can seek to have good manners for people and property. We are to strive to model distinction and admiration for others.
We are to treat our friends, and especially our spouse, with the utmost dignity and respect. So, in return, we should not go around with pride or commencing judging, zapping others with evil looks, spitefulness, or condescending comments, thinking that we are “high and mighty,” and better than everyone else. Never think of yourself as the capstone or the most important piece of the puzzle, because you are not. We should be grateful that God chooses to use us.
In so doing, we are to work together and not be little dictators, especially in our relationships. Love cannot be in the same room with pride or apathy (1 Corinthians 11:18-22; Philippians 2:1-5). Authentic Love does not force itself!
God is not self-seeking, When God tells us that He is not self-seeking, He means that He does not take advantage of us. He strives to lift us and empower us to life one another up, never demanding or manipulating us to get His way. He is considerate and appreciative of our trust and obedience. He does not plot evil, or allow unwarranted or unnecessary abuse to get to us.
We are to give allowances for the shortcomings of others. Our call is Rather, we are to model Christ-like character so it is contagious and inviting. Because God loves us so much, He never had a self-seeking attitude. If He had, He would never have sent His Son on our behalf.
Every Christian must respect the rights and dignity of other people, and never force our will and thoughtless behaviors onto others. We cannot force expectations or demands to our friends, or our spouse. We need to be happy when others around us experience success and growth, and never be jealous. Love is the seeking of His truth, and finding a way to bring it to others (Proverbs 10:12). Authentic Love does not have a “me first” attitude!
God is not easily angered, When God tells us that He is not easily angered, He means just that. He is not touchy, easily provoked, fretful, resentful, suspicious or oversensitive with us. Because God loves us so much, He did not allow His anger to wipe us out of existence when we so much deserved it. Instead, He allowed His drama of redemption to unfold throughout history, climaxing with the Person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ.
feelings. We are to be very slow to get angry, and we are not to let little things cause us to “fly off the handle.”
Understanding His love helps us see the debt we owe to Him and the unfathomable love and concern He has for us. We need to try to understand other people, and place ourselves in the shoes of another, respectfully. We need to listen, and not allow our hostile feelings to get the best of us.
We are not to let the sun set before we extinguish our anger with our spouse. Since God is patiently working in us, we should reciprocate with the Love put us in another’s shoes (Proverbs 12:16; Ecclesiastes 7:9; Matthew 5:22; Romans 12:19; Ephesians 4:26-18; James 1:19-21). Authentic Love is not touchy or resentful, and does not “fly off the handle!”
God keeps no record of wrongs, When God tells us that He keeps no record of wrongs, He means He is forgiving. He does not go around with a list, writing down our faults when we have repented. Because God loves us so much, He does not keep a scorecard of our sins as long as we honestly repent of them.
Rather, we are to look for the positive things that happen in our relationships, and to affirm others.
We are to seek reconciliation and forgiveness, never strife or dissention. We should not go around with a negative attitude, but, rather, with one that is positive, enthusiastic, and equipping to God’s people. We are not to keep track of the mistreatments we may receive from friends or our spouse.
We do not need to reflect or gossip about the flaws of other people in order to elevate ourselves. God refuses to do that to us. Love lets things such as resentment and anger go, so they do not build up and destroy us and our relationships (Matthew 18:21-35; Mark 11:25; Hebrews 13:21-21). Authentic Love does not keep a scorecard!
God does not delight in evil, When God tells us that He does not delight in evil, He means that He does not enjoy it when bad things happen to us. He feels our plight and acts upon it in His time, which is perfect. He is filled with compassion for us and desires that all of our relationships, especially those with our family and spouse are centered in Him.
When others plead or grovel, we should. We not only do not need to enjoy doing bad things to each other, but we must refuse to allow evil to happen.
We should feel badly when we see others being hurt. Compassion is one of God’s great characteristics, and we should strive to our fullest to model it to one another. We are to refuse to think evil, or let any harm come to them, by word, or deed.
Because God loves us so much, He is deeply grieved when we do not follow His example and His will. We are not to put others down in order to make us feel good about ourselves. Love is hurt even when an enemy is down (Isaiah 40:11; Matthew 9:36; 18:12-13; 23:37; Mark 1:41; Hebrews 4:15; 5:2). Authentic Love does not delight in evil!
God rejoices with the truth, When God tells us that He rejoices in truth, He means He is concerned with injustice and desires it to be corrected. Since He is truth and justice, He rejoices and empowers us to personally stand up to the pressures of life, and prevail with integrity and truth.
Because God loves us so much, we should live our lives so that we reflect a God of truth and justice. Thus, we should find delight when we see justice being played out in others. He calls us to treat others with respect, kindness, and honesty, and this should feel wonderful. God’s Word is His love and truth. When we get into it and live it, we are showing Christ the Love He deserves.
As Christians, we should get excited when justice prevails, and we should be mad enough to do something when injustice occurs, and we see the rights of others being violated. We should stand up, and affirm and support our friends and spouse, never lie to them, or manipulate situations.
(Romans 12:10; 1 Peter 2:17; James 2:1-9). Authentic Love takes pleasure in truth!
God protects, When God tells us that love always protects, He means we should allow love and trust to endure. We are to accept and stand with others, believing in the best in others. We can swallow the bitterness that some relationships can bring us by coating them with the sugar of love. With this kind of love, we can feel protected, and, in return, protect those around us. This does not mean we become security guards; rather, it means our actions and attitudes should be such that they project protection, and not destruction. Because God loves us so much, He does not forsake us, even though others may do so. People will always disappoint us, and we will always be disappointing to those around us, but God will never disappoint us. Love perseveres, and is an easier route than running off and abandoning relationships to which we have made a commitment. We need to be able to protect our friends and spouse, and realize that even though they will disappoint us, we should deal with it using the right, encouraging attitude. We should realize how much God is grieved when we fail to walk in His path for our lives, and when we do not trust His protection. Love is always on the lookout for the best interests and protection of others, where gossip and strife cannot function (Isaiah 42:2-3; Matthew 11:28-30; John 14-15; 2 Corinthians 1:3-7; 7:6-7). Authentic Love has staying power!
God always trusts, God always hopes,
When God tells us that He always hopes, we should be assured He will give us a future. We should be confident that when things are going bad, they will always get better, and that there is hope because our circumstances will always change. We should never lose hope.
Because God loves us so much, He always has hope for us. God is patiently working in us, and when we understand what God has truly done for us, then, we should have as much hope as we could ever need.
We need to see the potential, and how we can bring our relationship with our spouse to a deeper level of love and commitment. Love will see the potential in other people, what they can accomplish and become, and not hold them back out of our jealously (Psalm 31:24; 33:22; 71:14; Jeremiah; Romans 12:12; Hebrews 6:11-12; 18-20; 17:7). Authentic Love always is enduring and points to the future!
God always perseveres, When God tells us that He always perseveres, He means that His love has staying power; it will last, and not fade nor weaken. Thus, we can have confidence in God to hang in there and keep us going strong, especially when things get tough.
Because God loves us so much, He will stand with us, and even carry us through our difficulties and upsets. Even when we feel we have reached rock bottom and have no hope, when we are filled with despair, God is carrying us because He loves us.
Real love will never fade or become obsolete. It will remain standing when all else has gone to ruin.
This love will destroy rumors, and gossip, and cause us to believe the best about one another until proven otherwise—by facts. We will be able to maintain our relationships with friends, and with our spouse, and not give up in times of dire stress and confusion. Love carries us to the ultimate hope, and points us to the cross, and the eternity to come. This love will show us that what we do and learn here on earth will echo for eternity (Psalm 86:12; Matthew 5:16; John 13:34-38 Romans 5:5; 15:7; 1 John 4:7-12). Authentic Love refuses to quit!
God never fails. God is sovereign and in control! God’s mighty hand was in the environment and in humanity before the beginning of time, and continues today and on to eternity.
These are His descriptions who God is, One that we can Love, One that we can trust, One that we can put our hope into, without question or merit on our part.
Show me a church where there is love, and I will show you A church that is connected with Christ and connected with each other, and thus a church that is a power in the community.
Whoever loves much, does much. Thomas a’ Kempis.