Thursday, April 30th, 2020 | 11 AM PDT – 2 PM EDT
My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know Him if you don’t love. This is how God showed His love for us: God sent His only Son into the world so we might live through Him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God… If God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other.”
I John 4:7-10 MSG
Love One Another
In a world of social distancing, encouragement to greet “one another with a holy kiss” won’t be happening today! Yet, the Father has given us His Word and His Son, showing us His love, so that we can share His love with others.
- We are God’s hands, feet, and mouth to members of our family, our neighbors, and to strangers. The opportunities to lend practical help and support to the hurting is becoming more apparent in the midst of this time of much pain and uncertainty. The simplest gestures of care can mean the world to a person who is desperate for a glimpse of goodness. Ask the Father to help you recognize opportunities where you can extend His kindness… they are everywhere!
- Patience and thoughtfulness at home are antidotes to any rising irritabilities resulting from quarantine-cramping of our personal space or forced isolation. When we fill ourselves with reminders of God’s love, expressions of those life-giving deposits will emerge through our words and actions to others, while protecting our own minds and hearts.
- Hardships and bad news incite fear for the future, BUT “perfect love casts down fear” (I John 4:18) as we remember the sovereignty of our God and His love for us that never fades! Extra measures of grace need to be realized at this critical time when so many people and circumstances tempt us to recoil in self-preservation OR lash out in self-defense. Be a peacemaker wherever possible. May our faith, over fear, be contagious!
- In the quandary of clashing views on regulation measures and differing strategies toward economic recovery, let us remember; “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love for others [growing out of God’s love for me], then I have become only a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal” (I Corinthians 13:1). “Shaming” attitudes are destructive, but humility always wins! May we value people despite disagreements, and remember that “love rejoices with the truth.”
Let us lead by example, looking for the best in others; being hopeful, remaining steadfast during difficult times, and enduring all things without weakening, so that “many will see and fear the Lord, and put their trust in Him” (Psalm 40:3). Our lives should be compelling others to want to know the Father. Bottom-line, that should be the motive for what we say and do.
It’s a beautiful exchange to love and to be loved back, but God requires us to also love those who annoy us, who misunderstand us, and who even slander us. We are instructed to love our enemies and to be gracious to those who choose not to love us in return. Jesus reiterated that ANYONE can love others reciprocally, but to extend grace and goodness to those who oppose us requires a love that can only come from God’s Spirit within us. God proved His love for us while we were yet sinners.
- Jesus chose departure from His perfect home in heaven to dwell amongst us.
- Jesus looked at the crowds around Him and had “compassion on them.”
- Jesus extended unfathomable forgiveness as He agonizingly hung on the cross for us all.
“My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and His love becomes complete in us—perfect love!” 1 John 4:11-12 (MSG)
Romans 5:3-5 (MSG) declares, “…we continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us; and how that patience in turn, forges the tempered steel of virtue; keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!”
God’s mandate for us is to love Him AND others, which answers every “why?” to our existence! The forging of our virtue will not be the result of our determination to love others on our own, but instead, it will be the result of HIS perfect love poured into our hearts and manifesting by our choice to wield it. We cannot love others well on our own merits, but we CAN love people well in His Spirit! I encourage you to put an intentional stake in the ground today by verbalizing your decision to love God and the people around you.
“This is how everyone will recognize that you are My disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.” John 13:35