John – God and Love
“For this is the original message we heard: We should love each other.”
1 John 3, The Message
What is love? A little first grader thought she knew the answer. She innocently came up to the new teacher and began a serious conversation with, “I know how to make love…my dad taught me.” The new teacher panicked and immediately stopped the conversation to run and get her mentor across the hall, me…”I think Mrs. Callaway needs to hear this, too.”
The first year teacher told me what her student revealed. As a veteran, I calmed down the ruffled newbee and asked the girl to step into the hall. I asked her to tell us again what dad said. The little girl was so happy to relate her big news. “Dad taught me how to make love by making a heart where love goes like this, (she made a heart with her hands.) Instead of writing the word “love” you draw a heart and it still says, I (heart) love you!” Ah, now we get it. A very happy new teacher went about teaching her little students. I returned to my classroom with a giggle and a praise to God. “I (heart) you”.
Do we really know love? Do we know how to love like God loves us? John answers that readily and concisely. God is love. If we do not know God, then we do not know love. Anyone who knows and loves God is free to love others. If we do not love our brothers and sisters then we do not love God. It all begins and ends with God. Seriously.
“This is how we’ve come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves.” Ah…this is serious.
John points out another serious problem we ALL have at times. Self hate and self criticism which binds up our love for God and others. Stop it! Seriously. God loves us completely, has forgiven us completely, and abides with us completely. “My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self criticism, even when there is something to it. Did you get that? LIVE GOD’S REALITY! He love us as we are and will grow us to reach higher, to think more like Him and to behave more like Jesus!
Let us pray for opened eyes to God’s reality for all of us. Let us love like God loves us. AND here is the greatest bonus of all…“God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves.” AND He still loves us!! Seriously.
“And friends, once that’s taken care of and we’re no longer accusing or condemning ourselves, we’re bold and free before God!” We are also more confident to love others like God loves us! Here’s a thought that goes deeper still…The more we realize the reality of God’s love for us, the more deeply we love others. Seriously.
And now here’s John with all the words that explain this message. Read and be blessed. Seriously love each other because of our love for God, knowing God loved us first and still does. That’s God’s reality.
1 John 3, The Message
11 For this is the original message we heard: We should love each other.
12-13 We must not be like Cain, who joined the Evil One and then killed his brother. And why did he kill him? Because he was deep in the practice of evil, while the acts of his brother were righteous. So don’t be surprised, friends, when the world hates you. This has been going on a long time.
14-15 The way we know we’ve been transferred from death to life is that we love our brothers and sisters. Anyone who doesn’t love is as good as dead. Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know very well that eternal life and murder don’t go together.
16-17 This is how we’ve come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves. If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God’s love? It disappears. And you made it disappear.
When We Practice Real Love
18-20 My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves.
21-24 And friends, once that’s taken care of and we’re no longer accusing or condemning ourselves, we’re bold and free before God! We’re able to stretch our hands out and receive what we asked for because we’re doing what he said, doing what pleases him. Again, this is God’s command: to believe in his personally named Son, Jesus Christ. He told us to love each other, in line with the original command. As we keep his commands, we live deeply and surely in him, and he lives in us. And this is how we experience his deep and abiding presence in us: by the Spirit he gave us.
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for teaching us love through knowing You. You are God and we are not. You loved us first. You love us still. Thank you for also teaching us how to love each other sacrificially through the example of our Lord and Savior. Thank you for calming our worried hearts and restoring the joy of Your salvation in us. May our love go deeper still.
In Jesus Name, Amen