The love of God
…God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.
1 John 4:16 (NKJV)
God is love. Not surprising then that the primary Christian obligations are centred upon love, as we read in Matthew 22:37-39, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart…soul…and mind…[and] You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ And Jesus added a new special commandment for His disciples recorded in John 13:34, ‘…that you love one another; as I have loved you…’. Godly love is expounded throughout the epistle of 1 John and in 1 Corinthians 13. These passages make one thing very clear—Godly love is not cheap. Indeed, it is a very costly commodity.
We live in an age of instant gratification. We can buy on credit what we cannot afford. And, when faced with a problem or crisis, we want it fixed NOW – perhaps sometimes allowing that wish to spill over into our prayers. After all, we know Jesus healed instantly, and when we or someone close is ill, that is exactly what we want. But godly love is for the long haul.
Some of Jesus’ miracles were for the purpose of accrediting His identity as the Son of God in preparation for His ultimate sacrifice of love for mankind. But God has been loving, saving, blessing, healing, nurturing and teaching mankind faithfully for millennia—ever since the creation. He has been a loving Father towards mankind, and even likens Himself to a loving, faithful husband to unfaithful Israel. 1 John makes it clear that godly love is not soppy, sentimental or over-indulgent. It is much more than emotion and expression (although both are clearly involved). It is strong and brave, and evidenced by action. It involves risk, service and sacrifice and sometimes suffering.
Consider which requires more love and reliance upon the Holy Spirit to sustain that love: the ability to instantaneously zap a sick person back to health, or the love to nurse them for weeks, even years, through their sickness or incapacity. The marriage vows many of us committed to include the words: ‘for better or worse; in sickness and in health’. The wedding ceremony presumes that even human love is going to need to be very resilient, and ‘until death us do part’ implies the long haul too.
Godly love will cost you, but it is God who, through His Spirit, both gives it and sustains it. Personal sacrifice is implicit in the love that comes from God. Christian love and faith are predicated upon an understanding of, and gratitude for, the God who gives His love to us, as He gave Himself in love for us, in the greatest sacrifice of all.
Heavenly Father, thank you for your awesome sacrifice of love in our Saviour Jesus Christ. Please fill us with that same spirit of love that we may truly be your children. In Jesus Christ’s name.
Study by Richard Whiting
About the writer:
Richard Whiting is an elder of Grace Communion International now retired and living in Dumfries in South-West Scotland
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