“We love, (only) because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19 (parentheses mine and added)
We’ve been talking about Love…God’s love for us and ours for Him as His Word tells us that all Love and relationships are to begin. We love only because He first loved us (1 John 4:19) and our love must begin with wholehearted, sold-out devotion and love of Him with all we are so we can truly love ourselves and others (Mark 12:29-31). His Truth and Love is the only way we can do this.
There’s a reason for this and I think in our culture, and even in many of our churches, today, there’s a lot of activity and service in the Name of The Lord but much of it is based on the world’s concept of love…which is anything but love. We fail to build and deal with real Truth in Love relationships.
Many of our church leaders (be sure to read this entire devo) have been crammed full of theology so they can “do ministry” which is basically preaching and teaching The Word of the Gospel which is so needed…but as Jesus said, much of it is being done without a real relationship with Him (Matthew 7:21-23) and others. We know that Jesus said, in the latter times, the love of many will grow cold (Matthew 24:12).
Paul David Tripp in “New Morning Mercies,” as a pastor, author and teacher himself, states it this way in a response to a theology student(s) and future pastor(s) as he tells stories of pastoral counseling in preparing pastors and leaders to know how to serve in loving relationships…
“In the middle of one of these stories, a student raised his hand and said, ‘All right, Professor Tripp, we know we’re going to have these projects in our churches; tell us what to do with them so we can get back to the work of ministry.’ I was both stunned by what he said and thankful for what it allowed me to say. Here was a man heading for ministry who clearly loved ideas more than he loved people.”
Folks, it’s not just pastors and leaders…it’s so many who attend and give and serve in our churches without truly building loving relationships. As one pastor said to me, “Greg, relationships are messy, nasty stuff.” To which I replied, “What part of ‘messy, nasty stuff’ changes God’s Truth.
How is it that we’ve missed the reality that, as I say in our book, The Authority of Love, Second Edition, loving relationships is the currency of Christ’s Kingdom?
Tripp goes on to say, “I cannot forsake truth for relationships, and I cannot forsake relationships for truth.” These are inseparable and absolutely necessary for us to grow as individual disciples of Christ and sons and daughters of God, as well as maturing in accountable, loving relationships and community as families and as Christ’s Family, The Church (Ephesians 4:1-16).
He closes his devotional with this, “It is in a community of humble love that we are best positioned to understand all that God has said to us in His Word.”
May it be so in our lives, marriages, families and churches so the world will TRULY know His LOVE!
Think about it for a moment…God never wastes words! He has a purpose…a perfect purpose in every Word He gives. Why is that important? Because we so often skim over His Words, rearrange His Words and/or dilute or even ignore His Words to fit what we’re going through and how we feel.
He is always Truthful, always Loving in everything that He does because that is Who He Is…regardless of how it impacts us, what we think or how we feel.
His Truth is always Loving and His Love is always Truthful. That’s a great thing to keep in mind as you make your way through this day…and every day.
One simple truth as we continue with Love according to God the Author…He gives His commands in a Covenant Order with us so that if we choose to lovingly obey Him, because of Christ is us, then we are able to fulfill them. When we try to rearrange the order we struggle because we do not have His Truth and Love in us according to who we are in Christ but attempt to live out His Truth and Love in our flesh…it looks good for a while but ultimately fails.
When He tells us to Worship Him alone and Love Him with all we are as the priority command above all others, we need to take Him seriously and obey. Only then can we follow through with the second command to love ourselves (who we are in Christ) and then love others as we now love ourselves and as He has loved us.
Let’s quit putting the cart before the horse and begin to disciple people to first Love God as that is His greatest command. This then gives us the capacity to follow through with all other commands, namely loving self and others…and this allows us to fulfill all the law and the prophets…The Word of God!
Mark 12:29-31; Matthew 22:37-40; John 13:34-35; 14:15. These tell us clearly how to Love. How are you doing first and foremost with growing in your Love for God? Everything else depends on this.
This reality of Love is profound, yet simple. As we’ve been talking about His Love that we have only because He first loved us, learning and growing in our whole-being love for Him, let’s simply look at what that Love looks like according to His Word of Truth…Let me just share it with you directly from God’s Word…
John 3:16 – For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
1 John 4:7-10 – Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 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.
1 John 3:16 – We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us.
Romans 8:37-39 – No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 5:7-8 – But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Psalm 136:26 – Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever.
Ephesians 2:4-5 – But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions-it is by grace you have been saved.
1 John 3:1 – See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
John 15:13 – Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8a – Love is patient, love is kind, it is not jealous; love does not brag, it is not arrogant. It does not act disgracefully, it does not seek its own benefit; it is not provoked, does not keep an account of a wrong suffered, it does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; it keeps every confidence, it believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails;
Love and Lordship…Food for Thought – I could go on and on just as His Love does for us. Do you know Him and His Love? Don’t you want to know this kind of Love? Why would anyone not want to know this kind of Love and the God Who Is Love from which it comes? I pray that you do. You can…in Christ!
Love and Lordship…Action Item –
- Read the Scriptures in this article and ask The Holy Spirit to teach you.
- Journal what you’ve learned about love in this post.
- Spend time in God’s Word and prayer and ask The Holy Spirit to show you His Love.
- Spend time in God’s Word and prayer and ask The Holy Spirit to show you how to love God with all you are.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more about how you can know God the Father, Christ His Son and The Holy Spirit.