The word love has come to mean so many different things in this day and age; so much so that we often don't really know what one means when they say “I love you”.
When we talk about certain attributes like love and forgiveness it will benefit us to look at it from God's perspective. In talking about God's love we want to start off with the person Himself. The Bible tells us in 1 John 4:8,16. “He that loveth not knoweth not God for God is love”. “And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.“
I told my church one time that when it comes to weddings I will never again say “for worse” because we really know we don't really mean for worse; what we really mean is, as long as you can make me happy I'm gonna stay with you; but the minute you start acting up and doing all that stuff, I'm done.
God is love, and everything that our heavenly Father does always comes from that one thing - love.
Romans 5:6-10 “for when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. for scarcely for a righteous man will one die yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die; but God commended his love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more being reconciled we shall be saved by his life.
Wow. What an amazing verse! In those particular verses there are four kinds of people that God saves. Let’s start with verse six: The Bible there mentions the ungodly and sinners. Now go to verse 10. The Bible says, and this is my favorite, “when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through Jesus christ”
God's agape love does not need to be coaxed or motivated before it will act. In other words friends, God is always the initiator. He is the one that's always looking out for us. My performance; your performance, does not make God act. He does so because He is love. His love for you is not dependent upon how well you perform. God is love.
People hear this stuff and say “well, yeah, of course we know that”, but yet for some reason we are not experiencing more of his love for us in our lives. A lot of people sit in church week after week and are scared. They're thinking “I didn't do enough” or “I didn't have enough devotions this week” or “I didn't do a lot of witnessing this week”. They think that it's how they perform that somehow makes God love them. But no. The Bible says while we were yet sinners; while we were ungodly; while we were without strength; while we were enemies; wow! We were reconciled to God.
God’s love is not like ours. God's love is pure. Go with me quickly to 1 Corinthians 13, and I want us to start with verse 4. We've already established that God is love. If you're reading the KJV you’ll see the word charity. You may already know that's another word for love. In 1 Corinthians 13:4 the Bible tells us that charity suffereth long. Remember “God is love”; so it's okay to substitute the word God for charity. God suffereth long. God is kind. God envieth not. God vaunteth not Himself, is not puffed up. God does not behave Himself unseemly. God seeks not His own; He does not behave rudely; does not seek HIs own; is not provoked; thinks no evil does not rejoice in iniquity but rejoice in the truth; bears all things believeth all things hopes all things endures all things. God never fails.
God does not see us as we are but sees us how we might become; and not only does He see us that way but he also treats us as if we were already those things even before they are realized in our own lives. And you know why that's important? because sometimes how you look at other people and how you deal with people determines how you think of them. In other words, the way you think of a person will determine how you treat them.
Aren't you excited that God does not look at us as we are? Aren't you excited that God, in His pure, unadulterated love, sees you as you might become? Oh my goodness! and He treats you as if you’re already there!
So let me ask you a question. Looking at love as described in 1 Corinthians 13, do you see human beings naturally loving that way? We don’t! But the Bible says that God so loved the world - not only believers - the world. God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son that whosoever, that includes everybody you know, who believes in Him, might have everlasting life. God doesn't just love those who love him; He loves the world, including those who despise His grace and spurn salvation.
In Matthew 5:44 Christ told His hearers “I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you”.
Is this something that we naturally can do? No! No! No! We can't! But this is the good news: Jesus has already done this! and so if I invite Jesus to live in me, will He not love his enemies through me? Yes he will!
“Bless them that curse you” Only through Christ can these things be made a reality in our lives. Friends, it is possible - but only through christ; only through christ are these things made possible. We can't naturally love this way but the Bible also tells us in John 15:4-5 that if we abide in him and He in you, you can bear fruit. Then it goes on to say “without me you can do nothing”. Friends, without Jesus we cannot produce the fruits. The fruits are in Christ and if you have Jesus, you have everything. You have his love. You have his patience. You have his joy. You have his faith. If you have Christ then you have it all. You are made partakers of his divine nature and in doing so we have all that he has well.
When we love this way; when we allow the Holy Spirit to do that in us, it tells the world it tells the world that we belong to God; that we are His children.
One of my favorite authors says that “even the bread we eat is stamped with the cross of calvary”
Gandhi said if Christians would live more like their Redeemer all of India would bow down before their God overnight. You see friends, they may not believe that Jesus is is God, or they may not believe that he is the savior of the world, but one thing that comes across when you hear them speak is that Jesus was a good moral man; he loved people and, as a matter of fact, they will even go as far as to say that out of all the persons that they have read about, Jesus is the most loving and kind of them all. Then they look at christians and what do they see?
In John 13:34-35 the Bible says that “by this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another”. Notice it does not say if you know your Bible from Genesis to Revelation. Notice it does not say if you've been a member in the church for all of your life. Notice it does not say if you know how to give Bible studies. It says “if you have love for one another”. Because Jesus himself is love, he will do the loving through us.
When Jesus was coming out of Pilate’s hall he met Peter. Peter felt so bad because he had denied Jesus. Then his eyes got hold of the eyes of Christ and Jesus’ eyes met the eyes of Peter. In that look Peter saw love, forgiveness, hope. Had Jesus looked at Peter any other way other than pure unadulterated love Peter would have been overcome with despair.
In the book of Luke we read how Jesus had given the disciples power to go out and witness and do so many wonderful things. When they came back they were really excited about all they were able to do. By the way, Judas was a part of that group! But now check this out. What was Jesus' response to their excitement? He told them that they shouldn't be excited about that, but be excited that their names are written in the book of life. Notice it doesn't say rejoice that your names will be written in the book of life; it says rejoice that your names are already written there. Now let me ask you this. At that particular point was Judas in that group? Yes. You see. God loves you. He loves all His creatures. And even before we were born He wrote our names in the Lambs book of life. He essentially booked your spot! He desires for you to be saved and to enjoy eternity with Him.
Does this mean that everyone will enjoy the eternal inheritance which Christ has purchased with His own blood? Unfortunately not. Some people will unfortunately look at love, hanging on the cross, and turn away from Him. But to as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become sons, children of God.
God loves you. He really does. Whenever the devil comes and makes you feel as if you're not worthy, tell him that your salvation is not dependent upon your worthiness, it's dependent upon One who has already proven himself to be worthy; and that one is Jesus Christ. In Christ you can say I'm worthy. In Christ you can say I'm righteous. In Christ you can say I'm sanctified. In Christ you can say I'm holy. In Christ because he is your life. May God bless you.