Loving With The Love of God
Let me ask you a question. What would you consider to be the most significant theological and spiritual truth you have ever learned? Think about it for a moment. Someone will say that God is a faithful God. No one would dispute that among us. Another might say that Jesus saved me and of course we all will nod our heads at that truth! It is possible though, that the most significant theological, spiritual and personal truth is identified in a familiar tune ‘Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so."
There are only two major commandments Christ gave us to obey in Matthew 19:37-40 "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is like it, love your neighbor as yourself. All the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments." These two commandments are an outline of the Ten Commandments. The first five have to do with loving God and the next five with loving one another. So what does it mean to love?
What can we learn about the love of God?
1. IT IS A LOVE THAT IS UNDESERVED 1 John 4:10
‘Herein is love not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins’. First, we see that negatively, ‘not that we have loved God’ then second positively, ‘but that he loved us and sent His Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.’ What is important is not whether we love God or say that we love God but that God has loved us by removing our sins. Jesus death on the cross-turned away divine wrath so that Gods love for us is expressed in his sending his son to extinguish our sins on the cross.
Gods love is not given then to the worthy or to those assumed to be worthy. It is lavished upon sinners. We were in so much spiritual and eternal trouble that it required no less than the Son of God to get us out of it. We were perishing and under the judgment of God because His holy nature demands penalty. But His love brings men to eternal life. Romans 5:5-8 describes the objects of God’s love. We are helpless, ungodly, sinners and enemies. We have absolutely no favor with God in this condition. Yet God does not merely tolerate the sinners who constantly choose evil over good--he loves them! So God does not love us because we are fine, attractive people but as sinners. The result is that we have no place to boast before God. There is not one good thing in any of us that earns Gods love or makes Gods loving us something we deserve. He does not love us because we are so lovable or because we can somehow make ourselves worthy of His love. We can only conclude that love is a choice--Gods choice. God chose to love us. His love for us is free, spontaneous, unevoked, and uncaused. God loves us because he simply chose to do so. This is far different from our kind of love. We have the tendency to choose to love people who obviously love us and less love for those who do not. God loves us just because he loves us. It is his nature to love us without deserving it. Nothing we ever did made Him love us, so nothing we ever do will make him stop loving us.
2. IT IS A LOVE DOING THE BEST GOOD FOR ANOTHER 1 John 3:16a
‘We have come to know love by this: that Jesus laid down his life for us; thus we ought to lay down our lives for one another.’ John says we get our definition of love from Christ, namely, that He laid down His life for us in the sense that he did the best good for us which resulted in non-reciprocal giving. That's the way we are to love one another, give in such a way that it cannot be given back to us. There is always a cost involved and it always results in giving that cannot be given back!
God has given us something we can never give back in like manner. God motivated by his love for us has given us salvation through His Son. We cannot repay him for that. We are not only undeserving but helpless too. Our lives were in jeopardy. What we needed was salvation, that was the best good possible for us and God gave it. Our love must be like that too. A selfless love that practices costly giving because it serves the greater good of the person receiving it. When we give that to our children, our mate, our friends we are giving them the love of God.
3. IT IS A LOVE THAT GIVES John 3:16
Giving means expecting nothing in return. Love, real love, can pretty much be defined by the word ‘give’. God gives of himself and continues giving forever. When we come to God we cannot bring him anything that will make us acceptable. We do not bring anything valuable to God. In fact we acquire value only because we are the recipients of his love. Not only does God's love motivate Him to give, it motivates him to give when it cost him dearly. Gods giving his Son involved more than merely allowing Him to leave heavens glory and enter earth’s history. It meant allowing him to die in our place, pay the awful debt of our sins.
This is the model for our loving one another. It is to be a giving kind of love.
That gives at all costs and inconvenience. God is in the process of delivering us from ourselves. Our greatest barrier for loving Gods way is because we too often have only our best interest at heart. Gods love transfers us from ‘getting’ and ‘getters’ to ‘giving’ and ‘givers’. That is the nature of Gods love. John 15:13; Romans 5:8; Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 5:25; 1 John 4:9-10 all focus on loving as giving. This love keeps on giving and giving and giving so that their greater good can be served. If you are not a
giver, you are not a lover! If you are waiting for a person to become acceptable before you love them, then you are not a lover. If you serve another without regard for their greater good, you are not a lover. Love is undeserved; for the greater good resulting in giving that cannot be given back
What can we learn from the love of God?
1. LOVE IS A CHOICE
Love is not an option for us. God expects us to live a lifestyle of love. We must choose to move into that arena. It demands an act of our will to obey Christ in this matter. We have at least nineteen commands to ‘love one another’ in the New Testament. Jesus knew it would come down to choosing to love. It was not going to be based on whether or not we felt like giving for another's greater good even though they are undeserving of it. Loving this way is the most challenging, stretching, frustrating and at the same time rewarding thing that we can ever do. We will have to make choices daily to move in love in our homes and marriages, friendships and spheres of influences. It is the same thing God has done. He made a choice to love us, i.e., give to us with our greater good in mind when we were undeserving of it!
2. WE LOVE WITH GOD’S LOVE
1 John 4:19 says ‘We love because He first loved us.’ This is not saying that we now love as imitators of what we see in God. It is not our human loving out of gratitude for what God has done. It is literally Gods love being reproduced in the life of the believer. There is a change when people become believers; a change that is brought about by the power of God within them. Galatians 5:22 says that love is produced by the Spirit in the life of the believer. 2 Corinthians 5:14 says ‘it is the love of Christ that constrains us.’ This kind of love is not our natural achievement. It is brought about in us by God himself. 1 John 4:12 says ‘No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another God resides in us and his love is perfected in us.’ The love that comes from God, the love that he has for us reaches its climax and fulfillment in our loving of one another.
3. OUR LOVE MUST BE IN WORKS AND TRUTH
‘Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue but in deed and truth’ 1 John 3:18. He says we should not love just with tongue (words) but rather in works and truth. The two necessary ingredients for love are not words or expressions but deeds and truth. Work and truth work together. Work done outside of the context of truth is not good. That is pragmatism which looks to only the fruits of ones labor to determine if it is legitimate. For instance, Mormons are generous, but they are not following the truth. So good works apart from truth can actually lead a person further away from the truth. Truth without works is not of value either. Truth needs to be demonstrated. A Christian promoting the Gospel but cheating customers, having affairs, or getting a divorce, hurts the case for Christianity. So truth and works need to be together and this, John tells us, is how we demonstrate love