This is the last devotion in this series on love. These are devotions written by my mother, Estelene. Today, she is finishing the series by calling us to action as she discusses loving others.
When God had placed it on my heart to begin a series of devotions on the topic of love, I immediately established the fact that it would have to be divided into three sessions. Discussing God’s love for us was heartwarming. Following with the discussion on our love for him required commitment. But today’s discussion on loving others has proven to be eye opening.
Oh I didn’t think it would create a problem until I started typing the scriptures I wanted to reference. He stabbed me with a dagger through the middle of my heart. I must admit, it hurt. It hurt deeply. God has a way of speaking to us while we are in the process of speaking to others. I don’t always like it, but it is for my own good.
Of course, there are multitudes of scriptures throughout the Bible referencing the subject of love. I chose only a few. The first passage we will briefly discuss is found in Leviticus 19:18. Even though the second portion of this verse may be found throughout the New Testament, I chose this one because most people shy away from the Old Testament. I find it very interesting, full of advice, and warnings about how God deals with his people when they are living in disobedience.
Our Heavenly Father reveals his message through Moses as he writes, “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.” During this time in history, the sacrificial system for forgiving sins had been put in place. This command was one of the various laws God had instructed them to follow so that they would live their lives as forgiven people.
Do you have a tendency to contemplate in your mind over and over again satisfying revenge towards someone who has wronged you? Or am I the only one? I am particularly guilty of holding a grudge against someone. What good does all this do? No good can come from it. Actually it puts a barrier between us and God. We have to lay our desire for revenge or our grudge down at the feet of Jesus and never pick it back up.
In John 13:34-35 Jesus is speaking to his disciples. “A new command I give you; love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” When he says “A new command I give you,” he is not referring to loving one another. He stated that in Leviticus 19:18. He is now telling them to love others as He loved them (us). That puts a whole new perspective on the word love. Is it possible to love as Christ loved us? He wouldn’t tell us to do something He knew we weren’t capable of doing. Christ was a man, yet He was God. He was capable of sinning, but He didn’t. Therefore, we are capable of loving as Christ loved us. I believe the next two scriptures will help define the type of love Jesus was talking about.
John, the one Jesus loved, quoted Jesus again as he was talking to his disciples in John 15:13-14 “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.” First of all, Jesus emphasizes the great amount of love it shows for someone to lay down his life for a friend. Jesus is speaking of his sacrificial death on the cross for all, and the great amount of love we should have for others. More than likely we will never be asked to die for someone else, but if asked, could you? Would you?
Romans 12:9 reads, “Love must be sincere.” Are you pretending to love others? In other words, are you being polite? God tells us that love requires more than a feeling of compassion or politeness. God knows your heart. You can’t hide your true feelings from him. If you truly love others, you will have a burning desire to help them in their time of need. Give them your time, a listening ear, food, or whatever else they need to help them through their troubled situation. Maybe they need to hear how much God loves them.
If we have accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we have the Holy Spirit of God living in us. Galatians 5:22 states that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Did you notice the word love?
I don’t believe God requires us to like a person’s actions, but He does require us to love the person. If I can truly say that I want the best for a person even though he has wronged me, this implies that I have a loving attitude toward that person. I don’t have to be friends with everyone. In fact, sometimes I think there are people I shouldn’t socialize with either because they may lead me down the wrong path, or our personalities clash. I am better off staying away from them. I can still pray for them, love them, and wish the best for them.
Whenever you begin to harbor bitterness or hatred in your heart toward someone, a good rule of thumb is to remember that God loves them as much as He loves you, and He created them just as He created you. That has a tendency to humble you a little bit. This is a good time to look at the last scripture for today.
1 John 4:19 says, “We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.”
What can I say? There is no way around it. If you don’t love your brother, you do not love God. Some people are going to say that loving your brother is referring to loving other believers. Don’t use that as an excuse or justification to hate unbelievers. They should be able to feel Christ’s love through us.
The fact is we must love others. If God’s love reached only those who loved him, who could be saved? No one. Because He loved us first, we can love. Through Christ, I love you even though I probably don’t know you. Now go as disciples and love others, believers and non-believers as Christ loved the world.
May God bless you and keep you until we meet again.