Are you really settled and secure in God’s love? As believers we know the words, the Scriptures about God’s love, but have we learned to truly rest in it? Are we still somehow seeking His approval? The capacity with which we are secure in God’s love will greatly affect our relationships with others and our own ability to love.
Years ago, God brought me to a crisis of belief about His love. I knew all the right answers, but circumstances involving relationships in my life were exposing my inadequacy in loving others well. I went to the Lord. I wrestled with His Word. In the depths of my soul I knew that the words I had spoken about God’s love were not really settled in my own heart and until they were, I would never be able to offer that love to others. I truly believe our ability to love others well is dependent on our understanding of how Jesus loves us and how we live in the reality of that truth.
In recent months, I see the same issue coming up in my conversations with others. Many are struggling with relationships, but often the root of the issue and pain is their grasp of God’s love for themselves. I wonder if you are struggling with relationships in your life, too? We can’t really move forward with God’s purpose for our lives to be a display of His love until we get beyond quoting the Scriptures and choose to soak in them so that they take hold of us and ultimately transform us.
I have been singing for weddings since I was seventeen. I lost count of how many long ago. At many of these weddings I was continually reminded of how we are to love as the familiar Scripture 1 Corinthians 13 was read at the ceremony.
1 Corinthians 13:1-8 (NIV) - Read this slowly, even if you know it well.
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, 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.
How often I have left the ceremonies inspired and recommitted to love as the Scripture exhorts us to love. But I had a significant encounter with God’s love as I prepared to write a study on the attributes of God’s character. I came across an account from the Bible scholar Gordon Fee about his commentary on 1 Corinthians. He wrote that when he came to this passage he sat a long time, wondering what he could possibly add to the most sublime piece of love poetry ever written.
What else was there to say?
“And then God spoke to him: “Gordon, do you understand, this is the way I love you?”
“Gordon, what if it were not so?” And Gordon Fee, a big man, loud and brash, cried like a baby for an hour.”
I found myself in tears as I read this account.
What if it were no so in my life? What if God loved the way I do?
When it suits me. When I feel like it. When the other person is easy to love, or seems worthy of my love, or when I feel obligated to love.
What if He loved cautiously as I so often do?
What would I do if He loved me that way?
I couldn’t face another day if I thought I couldn’t rest in the security of His love.
My encounter with the Word that day forever changed my perspective of God’s love and how He calls me to love others. It's a faith lesson I continue to learn.
His love for us isn’t bound by our behavior or swayed by our imperfections.
His love for us is faithful when we are faithless.
When I am keenly aware of my own sin and recognize my desperate need for God’s love and mercy,
I want to extend that same love to others.
All of us long to be loved. That need that we have to know that we are loved is evident when we examine our lives and the choices we make.
There is One and only One who is capable of loving us perfectly.
We have to go to the Word when we are seeking to understand the love of God. For our ability to trust in God’s love can't be based on our experience. We must be careful not to limit His love by the evidence of it in our own circumstances or by our own personal definition of love.
I know that many of you reading today have experienced great suffering and struggles in life.
Can I still proclaim Him as a God of love when I’ve faced the death of a spouse, endured the pain of cancer, lost a job, been betrayed by a friend, watched my own child suffer, seen my dreams disappear from reality, endured a divorce, faced loneliness, depression, or financial disaster?
What is your personal struggle?
What is your honest answer?
We must wrestle with these questions if we are to present an authentic, passionate faith in a loving God
to a searching world.
God often doesn’t express His love as we would choose.
How do we learn to rest in a love that is not only lavish, compassionate, faithful and sacrificial,
but also heartbreaking, radical, and unpredictable?
I only know one place to begin. I go the the Scriptures for answers.
The Bible is our only sure standard of truth in a world that is rampant
with confusion and compromise.
Take a few moments and let the water of the Word wash over you.
Or read Jeremiah 31:3, Romans 5:8, Romans 8:31-39, John 14:21-23, John 17:22-23, and on and on we find His Words of love in Scripture.
Ultimately, we must come to the place where we simply choose to believe.
You will never truly embrace the journey into intimacy with Jesus until you rest in the truth that God is good and He loves you. I spent many years painting my own portrait of God. It was a mixed up picture in which I limited the love of God by my own experiences and feelings.
It will be the great journey of our lifetime to study God’s character in His Word
and surrender to His work in our lives.
I often left those wedding ceremonies full of sentiment, but God’s love for me is fierce.
It rises above sentiment and pierces my heart with its passion, faithfulness and tenderness.
It’s patient when I’m not.
It’s kind when I respond with an ugly word of self-defense.
It’s boundless when I dole it out in proportions that seem worthy of my time and energy.
It keeps no account. It delights in me, rejoices in me.
Jesus longs to show you and me how to love. His love is made complete in us.
When we choose patience, we begin to understand His patience with us.
When we offer kindness, we begin to understand His compassion and kindness toward us.
When we choose forgiveness, we begin to understand, even if just a little, the cost of the forgiveness He offers to you and me.
Consider exploring some Scriptures this week about God’s love.
This is love: He allows us to experience the pain and joy of life, but journeys with us all the way.
This is love: A God who seeks beauty among the ruins of an adulterous woman (1 John 8:1-11)
This is love: A God who humbles himself and washes our dirty feet (John 13:1-16)
This is love: A God who knows everything we’ve ever done and offers living water instead of shame and guilt. (John 4:1-30)
This is love: A God who forgives our sin and failures and offers us the privilege of being part of His kingdom work. (John 21:1-19)
This is love: A God who pursues us to the point of sending His own Son to die for our sins. (John 19:16-30)
This is love: Jesus rose from the grave and runs to embrace you and me (John 20:1-18, Luke 15:1-3, 11-32)
"God completes His love in us when we love one another. The only way we can get to the place where we rely on the love God has for us--where we rest in it-- is by loving. He calls us, you and me, to be His kiss, His touch, His Word, His embrace, and by doing so to also be assured of His kiss, touch, Word, embrace." Mark Buchanan
Jesus empowers us to love by His standard when we submit to His Spirit.
God is love.
That Love lives within us....
always trusting, always hoping, always persevering --never failing.
Grateful for His love,
Resources: Living Water Bible Study by Kathy Drake, Scripture Images Pinterest, Mark Buchanan, The Holy Wild
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