I think the hardest thing to think about is just how much God loves us. Of course we’re told that He does, and we believe He does, but how many times have we actually stopped to think about it? And how much do we really believe it? In a bible study* I did a while back, one I had purchased at a Women of Faith conference, I was told to read 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7. These are verses that, even if you don’t read the Bible, you may know fairly well. “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.” After reading it I was then told to re-read it, but instead replace “love” with “Jesus,” and “it” with “He.” To me it became even more powerful. The first time through I really liked it. The second time through I was blown away. A lot happened to me that day after this study, a lot of good spiritually, and I continued moving from there. I realized just how much He loves me and what it meant to me, and because of that, I was able to be filled with the joy that a small group of friends had prayed over me for two days earlier.
“Jesus is patient, Jesus is kind. He does not envy, He does not boast, He is not proud. He is not rude, He is not self-seeking, He is not easily angered, He keeps no records of wrongs. Jesus does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. He always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Jesus never fails.”
I believe that putting Jesus into those verses makes it more concrete and easier to understand. We can visualize more clearly what this means, and can take delight in the fact that HE is all these things. He does not keep record of our wrongs? He rejoices in truth? Not easily angered and is patient? And all this with us. Think of it as Jesus telling you specifically what and who He is for you.
Most people have grown up hearing their parents tell them they love them. I know I tell my kids all the time, and they tell me they love me as well. We know that our parents do not only because they tell us, but because they show us. They may use hugs and kisses, they may have tucked us in at night when we were little; they provided for us and protected us until we were old enough to be on our own. When we’re older it may be an offer of babysitting, or going out together for lunch just to talk. They may even help us in times of trouble.
Some people hear “I love you” from a boyfriend or a girlfriend. Sometimes that love is true, and other times it’s just three words uttered that don’t really mean anything. It just “feels right” at the time. Sometimes the true love grows, and the two decide to become one in marriage. They become husband and wife and share a great love.
Love is everywhere in the world, but real love is from God. He loves us and wants us to know and understand this. He wants us to love Him, and He’s told us how. He also wants us to love each other. That can be the hardest part for a few reasons. Sometimes there are people we feel we just can’t love. How can we love anyone who has ever done anything bad to us or to anyone else? It’s really hard to love people in government because they don’t always seem to have our best interest in mind. Some people haven’t received much, if any, love on the earth growing up, and don’t quite know how to receive it when it does come their way, and they don’t know how to give it.
Regardless of where we stand, we need to love. And that love starts with God. We need to understand just how much He loves us, and we can only do that by reading His words, and by praying. We can also look around and see all the wonderful things He has done for us; everything and everyone He has put in our lives. From there we can share that love that He has so graciously bestowed upon us. John writes, “We love because He first loved us.” (1 Jn 4:19) He also says, “And He has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.” (1 Jn 4:21) It doesn’t matter who the person is, we need to love them. We don’t have to like them, but we must love them. We’re told that if we claim to love God, but we don’t love each other, then we’re liars, because how can we love the unseen when we can’t even love the seen? (1 Jn 4:20)
If everyone loved each other as God wants us to, then the world would be a lot better place to live in. All we can do as Christians is continue to follow God’s commands, love Him, love each other, and share His word with as many people as we can. Never give up on loving no matter how hard it may seem at times. With God, all things are possible, so pray and ask Him to teach you how to love as He does.
May we all learn that God is Love, and that all love is from Him. May we bask in this perfect love that He has given us and not keep it hidden, but share it wherever we go.
*Women of Faith Study Guide Series
Over the Top: Discovering God's Extravagant Love