Random Acts of Godliness: Love (published in print 12/2/13)

Today’s attribute can be summarized in three small words:  “God is love.”  But what does it mean that God is love or that God loves us? 

Looking at the definition of the word “love” we might be a little confused about what God’s love might be.  Dictionary.com, defining the word as a verb, says: 

to have love or affection for; to have a profoundly tender, passionate affection for (another person); to have a strong liking for; take great pleasure in; to need or require; benefit greatly from; to embrace and kiss (someone).

God’s love can be seen in these definitions, it is true.  God does have at least an “affection” for us, but it goes so much deeper.  Look at what the Scriptures tell us about God’s love for his people.

When Adam and Eve sinned against God and were required to leave the garden, even then God made a plan for reunion/redemption.  “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”  Even at that point, when his own creation had disappointed and rebelled against him, God made a plan to reunite humankind with himself, speaking of the death of Jesus.

Throughout the Old Testament God spoke of his love for his people Israel, and the proof of his love can be seen in many ways.  God helped them, provided for them, but also chastised them.  You see, love isn’t just a mamby-pamby kind of feeling that just wants the person to be happy.  Love wants the best for the person, always the best, even if getting there might be painful.

So what does it mean to have God’s attribute of love for someone?  First of all, we need to realize that loving someone is much different than liking them or liking what they do.  God’s love is so far above and beyond that.  Second, to love someone, truly love them, is less about me than it is about them.  Our world has distorted the word to make it about me, that loving you is about my pleasure or feelings.  God’s love is about the other, always about the other.

God’s love makes decisions that are for the eventual best for the other person.  We see this with parents and children.  When we make decisions that allow our children to get away with infractions, we are not loving them, but rather we are condemning them to that personality fault by teaching them it is all right to do so.  If we love our children we need to correct them and help them to find a strong character.

While God is at a definite advantage in this way, being able to see the beginning from the end, the consequences from a distance, we can partake in that advantage by having a vital relationship with Christ.  “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it’” (Isaiah 30:21).  Even in our day-to-day lives God has promised to lead us, to enable us to be the people we were created to be.  If we are listening, we will find direction and learn how to love someone else.

When we are lost or not living as we should, the Holy Spirit brings conviction to our hearts.  This is evidence of God’s love for us.  Even if you believe that voice is only your conscience speaking to you, who created the conscience?  Likewise, if we love our friends and neighbors, we will tell the truth:  Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ (Ephesians 4:15)

While the context of this verse is Paul speaking about the gift of apostles, teachers, etc., the verse applies to each of us.  If we truly love our friends and family members, we will tell them the truth, in a loving way, of course, so that they will not be stuck in a rut of destruction or sin, but rather be able to break the chains of what is affecting them and move forward into a mature individual.  Note that this is speaking the truth in love, not in self-righteousness or judgment.  That is another discussion.

Another reason for loving our neighbors as God loves us is this:  we are commanded to do so:

“’Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’ Jesus replied: ‘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.’”

We are commanded to love our neighbors, those around us, to be a part of wanting the best for them.  If we are daily making decisions in our own lives that help us love God better, we will love others as God loves them, by wanting the best for them, helping them make good decisions, and speaking the truth in love to those in our lives.

Show the attribute of God’s love in your life today! 

Blessings!

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