A few weeks ago I began a journey of exploring love and asked the Lord to help me to come to love more like Him.
Following are some things He has revealed to me:
The Christian faith and those of us who are Christians understand that God IS love — and the implications of this are profound! Christianity is based on forgiveness, mercy, grace, and at its very core is love! Forgiveness, mercy, and grace are possible because of love!
When you seek the core essence of God, you find love.
“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.” (1 John 4:7-8)
God is the source and inspiration for our own love.
“We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)
Any kind of love that we experience for friends, family, someone special — all of it had its root in God, since the Bible teaches that we are made in God’s image.
Perhaps the most wonderful and profound truth that you can grasp is that the God of the universe knows you personally and loves you more profoundly than you can ever begin to comprehend.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
Love was the reason Jesus came into our world.
Another truth is that God loves us in spite of ourselves. We often times feel that because of our sins, God does not love us anymore. That may be the way we feel about ourselves, but it does not describe God’s feelings for us.
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved.” (Ephesians 2:4-5)
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
God does not love us because we are good and worth loving. He loved us when we were still rebellious against him, when we were sinning, when we were despicable.
Since the essence of God’s nature is love, then it makes sense that he wants his children to love others. When Jesus was asked what the most important commands in the Bible were, He singled out two:
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” (Matthew 22:37-39)
First, we are commanded to love God above all others — with all our heart, soul, and mind. How do we learn to love God? By spending time in prayer and communicating with him through his Word; experiencing him in our lives each day; and desiring to love him.
Second, we are commanded to love our neighbor. Who is our “neighbor”? When Jesus was asked that question He told the story of the Good Samaritan, where a Samaritan man (a person from a hated ethnic and religious minority) showed mercy towards an injured Jew (his natural enemy). In other words, even our enemies are to be subjects of our love; they are our neighbors (Luke 10:29-37).
“I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44)
Because the core of God is love, this love extends even to God’s enemies (as we once were), and must extend to our enemies, too. We are instructed:
“Bless those who persecute you; bless and don’t curse.” (Romans 12:14)
Love is the inner most core which inspires Christian living.
Jesus’ words from the cross reflected true love:
“Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)
The willingness to forgive others stems from this love at the very core of God. Forgiveness is expected of Jesus’ followers, too. At the center of the Lord’s Prayer we find this request:
“Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12)
“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you don’t forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:14-15)
Jesus says that if we want to be recipients of God’s love and forgiveness, we must let it flow on through us to others. We cannot receive forgiveness without giving it as well.
There are people who have hurt us — sometimes deeply! Usually it is the people who are closest to us who are able to hurt us the most. Have you forgiven these people who have sinned against you? Jesus asks you to do that.
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
“Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-13)
Love is the core essence of God! When we truly know him he fills us with his love. His love changes us, changes our hearts, and helps us to become more like him. I encourage you today to seek him and ask him to search your heart, to help you love more like him, to become more like him and he will surely answer your prayer because he loves you. He is love!
“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.” (1 John 4:7-8, NIV)