This week the GMG's study of 1 John is all about God's love and his mandate to us to love one another. St John uses some powerful words here. He tells us that if we fail to love then we cannot love God! He had said previously in Chapter 3 that whoever does not live uprightly and love his brother is not from God and that anyone who hates his brother is a murderer and cannot have eternal life in him! Wow! I don't know about you but I know that it is not easy to love those who annoy me, inconvenience me or are rude and obnoxious. I wont say that I hate them... hate is such a strong word, but if I cannot find an drop of 'like' in me, is it the same thing? In 1 John 4:8 we are told that "Whoever fails to love does not know God because God is love."
When I examine my heart I know that this is true. If I claim a relationship to God, I must have God's love for all in my heart. Why is this so hard?
1 John 4:12 "No one has ever seen God, but as long as we love one another God's love remains in us and his love comes to its perfection in us" I'm no theologian, but it seems to me that what I'm getting out of this is that love needs love... the Father's love. I envision it this way... I'm like a conduit as well as a receptacle.
When I remain in God, His love enables me to give love to others, which is then returned to Him. That's a really powerful thing to read.. God's love comes to perfection in us! We are called to love as God loves us. How is that even possible? It is possible because he enables us, he empowers us to do so. The secret... to remain in relationship with Him.
Throughout every situation in my life... some of which were extremely painful... I have gone before God and received the same mandate. Love is the answer.. love more, give of yourself. This is not ever an easy thing to do when the very people that God is telling us to love are the ones who are hurting us. Yet, there it is... and I can testify that love IS the answer to all that plagues us.
Love gives us the power to forgive what to human eyes is unforgivable. Love gives us the courage to reach out and face possible rejection over and over again. Love makes us strong in ways we did not believe we could ever be. Love stretches us and makes us give what we thought we could never give and do what we didn't think we were capable of doing.
That goofy little picture above says it all... He gives us love, the kind of love we need, the righteous and Godly love. He mandates that we pass it on.. completely.. withholding nothing.. just as He withholds nothing of Himself from us. We find that when we do give love as God asks of us, He then begins to work in a miraculous way. Somehow, we, the conduits of His great love, enable Him to topple walls and crumble defenses and chip away at stone to get to the true heart of others. We then find that He comes into the very same situations that cause us pain and starts to wrought change in them, creating new hearts and minds.
I had been feeling discouraged myself lately, burdened with too much to do and too little time. I was feeling sorry for myself and listening to those little voices in my head, telling me that nobody appreciates what I do, that my almost grown children and my husband live in their own worlds and just take for granted that I take care of them and they don't 'see' my needs. You all know about those little voices don't you? They are the voices of the enemy of our souls whose purpose it is to draw us away from the love of God
I, then, did my bible study and read those powerful words and heard them echo in the stillness of my heart.. the memory of all those times the Lord ministered to me in my brokenness with that one mandate "Love and give all". The mistake I made, apart from listening to those 'voices' was to not go to God Himself, the source of all love. As Courtney said in the video in this post, there is a God-sized hole in each of us that we cannot expect anyone else to fill. When that hole is filled by God and with His love, we don't look to others to fill us up. God's love tells us to give love, not to take it.
This morning, I opened my email to see a message from someone who was reading my blog for the first time and was blessed so much by their words. It was confirmation for me that I must follow that mandate to give love.. always, despite the circumstances and my own feelings.
That cliched and much maligned little saying that 'Love makes the world go round' is exactly correct. God's love and the passing on of that love is what keeps the balance. Don't be discouraged, my friends, draw your strength from Him and keep on loving, even though it may seem that you love in vain, you give without receiving and you are completely taken for granted. Nothing we do with love and for love is ever to be discounted... God Himself is pleased to accept our every love sacrifice as a rose in the bouquet at His throne.
1 John 4:10 "Love consists in this, it is not we who love God, but God loved us and sent His son to expiate our sins." There it is... the supreme sacrifice of Jesus, proof of God's immeasurable love for us. Can we help but do as He asks.. pass it on? There within this most precious heart of God's only begotten Son lies a wealth of love and mercy for us to tap into.. if we could just do this.. we would love well and completely as He asks.
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