“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us” (1 John 3:16a).
Love makes the world go round.
All you need is love.
The world loves love. What is love? Who is the author of love? Where does love come from and why do we all desperately need it?
God is love because He embodied perfect, redemptive love in sending Jesus to die for sinners.
God is the source of all love. 1 John 4:8 tells us, “God is love.” He is not simply loving. He is love. Our understanding of love is based in our human experience but humans cannot love perfectly because we are not perfect. We are sinners. The fullest expression of God’s love was His offer to restore fellowship with Himself through the sacrifice of His only Son. 1 John 4:9-10 tells us, “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” More simply stated, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us” (1 John 3:16a).
Understanding God’s love is critical for us to receive it. We are all unworthy of His love. The only thing that makes us acceptable to Him is the fact that Jesus died in our place and took on the penalty we justly deserved. John 3:16 reminds us because God so loved the world, He gave His Son so we might have eternal life. God’s love is something we receive because of Christ. We don’t have to ask for it. If we had to ask for it, there would be something we would have to do in order to earn it. Because of this, we don’t ever have to prove we are worthy of His love. God never changes and therefore God’s love never changes.
Once we realize the grace of God that motivated Him to rescue us, the only right response is to love God in return. How do we do this? We do this by accepting Christ as our Savior, living obediently, studying His Word and seeking to love others well. The Bible makes it clear: to love is to obey. 1 John 5:3a says, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments.” John 14:15 says, “If you love me, you will keep my commands.” Although our obedience does not earn God’s love, it is a demonstration of how God’s love has changed us. It is our good and right response to His grace.
Part of obedience is the intentional decision to love others well. 1 John 5:2-3a “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments.” Loving God, loving others and obedience all go hand in hand. Ephesian 5:1-2 tells us, “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Another translation says to “be imitators of God.” We imitate God when we extend love to others especially when they don’t deserve it. When we realize we don’t deserve God’s love we are better able to live in a grace-oriented, sacrificial way. We cannot, however, do this without the Lord’s help. Loving others well is very difficult at times. The Holy Spirit indwelling us provides the ability for us to do all God commands us.
A few questions to ponder as you meditate on God’s love for you:
How has God’s love changed your life?
How can God’s love motivate you to live obediently? How can it motivate you to love others well?
When has it been difficult to receive God’s love? What Scriptures can you claim to help recall that God’s love cannot be earned?
I am really grateful for Terri who shares her story about living in shame and finding healing through God’s love. May you receive and rest in God’s love for you today,