I read a Piper quote this morning in my devotional time which really got me thinking about love.
"All of creation and all the work of redemption, including the work of Christ as our suffering, dying and rising Redeemer, and all of history hang on these two great purposes: that humans love God with all their heart, and that from the overflow of that love, we love each other." -read Matt 22:36-40 and Matt 7:!2
This is a sobering thought. I love God and am so grateful for His goodness and mercy to me, but I still find it difficult to show that love to those around me. Yet in 1st John it says, "Anyone who does not love remains in death: (3:14b) and "if we say we love God yet hate a brother or sister, we are liars." (4:20)
But how do we love others? 1 John puts it simply, "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for one another (3:16). Love requires a complete dying to self- it is a death of my rights, needs, and wants.
What does this love look like in action? I think true love desires and seeks the other person's ultimate good. Now, I know that true joy, peace, and life is only gained through Christ. So my love for others should stem from my willingness and passion (regardless of my needs, wants, or rights) to do what it takes to see my brother or sister find their ultimate satisfaction in Christ.
How sadly I fail in this area. So often my own selfish agenda is behind my 'love' or acts of service. How often do I truly desire and encourage others to find their satisfaction in Christ? My love is not like this. It is so often superficial, selfish, and weak.
I know I am powerless to show this kind of love on my own. However, it says in 1 John, "This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins... if we love one another God lives in us and His love is made complete in us... so we know and rely on the love God has for us." (4:10-12, 16). The answer is that God loved us before we loved Him. Once I get to know my Lord and find my joy and satisfaction in Him, that joy naturally overflows in my actions and love toward others. So my greatest weapon to fight against sin, and my greatest source of strength to love as Christ loved, is to get to know the Master. No one can sit at His feet and learn from Him and go away without a transformed heart. I find unbelievable encouragement that my greatest asset in my fight to love others, is simple rest in God.
I will finish off with another wonderful Piper quote.
"Jesus is calling for a change of heart that looks to Jesus and His reward rather than what this world can give. The intimate knowledge and tender, sovereign care of our omnipotent, all wise, heavenly father frees us for the radical kind of risks and loses that true love demands."