February, the month when cards, roses and chocolates appear in our stores for Valentine’s Day. Restaurants advertise special meals. Many enjoy the gifts and expressions of love they receive. We all want to be loved and we blossom when we feel secure in the knowledge that we are indeed loved by those we love in return. Sadly human love inevitably passes away.
Those who follow Christ follow a crucified and risen Lord who defined love by his sacrifice. This amazing gift of love should prompt Christ’s followers to consider how they may love and serve others. They should not expect others to serve them in return.
In the history of humankind there is only one Man who deserves to be made much of, to be worshiped and celebrated every waking moment, Jesus Christ, God’s Son, the one who was entitled to be adored but instead chose to be abhorred, despised, and rejected, a man of sorrows, bearing our griefs and sins. “…he was wounded for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities, upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace and with his stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5)
“Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:10)*
Rights forfeited, griefs and hardship accepted, putting others’ needs before our own. This is the way of true love. Human love will so often fail us and leave us disappointed and disillusioned.
Why not search for the true love shown by God and Jesus? By deciding to try to understand this everlasting love it will lead us to put others before ourselves. A love willing to sacrifice its wants, desires, and dreams for the joy of others. A love of the glory of God, not of the glorification of self.
Before we can truly love others, we must first love God. Such love for others can only be developed by understanding the nature of God’s love towards humankind.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:16-17)
The only ones who can truly love are born of God and know God. Without understanding God’s love in sending Jesus to be a sacrifice for our sins, we are not capable to give out such love to those in our lives. “…while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person….God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.(Romans 5:6-8)
“We love because he (God) first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)
While we were still sinners, Jesus loved us. When we had done nothing for Him, He loved us. His love for us is shown in his sacrifice on the cross. Jesus, by his death, opened up the way to everlasting life to those who truly try to follow him. Only the heart that treasures this love is capable of giving it out. To love, not to get but to give, not to use, but to be used.
To receive the love of God is to accept our bankruptcy. We have nothing good to our name, only sin. We deserve death but by the love of Christ we are spared. So when it comes to our relationships, we must put to death any thoughts of entitlement. ‘I deserve better’ has no place in the mind of a Christian. “For the wages of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
It’s far too easy to focus on what we think others should do for us, especially those who are closest to us. When they fail to meet our expectations we are tempted to punish. Remember that in the hour we were most undeserving, Christ died for us. So when those we love let us down, we must put to death our preferences, our selfish ambitions, our desires and wants.
So, let us be reminded of who we are. We are sinners with a Saviour, Jesus, children with a Heavenly Father, beggars with an abundance of treasure, entitled to nothing, yet possessors of everything. We are learning to be free from self. We try to love unreservedly. As such, we can reject cultural ideas about love and about what we deserve. We can believe in our God and Jesus who are more than enough for us, today, tomorrow and every day.
In God and His Son Jesus Christ alone true love is found, and through them alone true love is given.