At what point in your life do you think you really began to understand love? Love is introduced to us by our parents, if we have good ones. The love of family is a foundation upon which children grow in their understanding of love. But a child’s love is selfish and limited. It isn’t what it will be when they mature.
Now think about the first time you thought you were “in love.” Maybe you ended up with that person, or maybe that was just a test run for the real thing when it came along.
Loving someone in a long term, committed relationship probably comes closer to the real thing. I have been tremendously blessed to be totally in love with the same guy for over 40 years. And as good as that is, there is another love that I have experienced that is closer yet to true love…when I became a mother.
Parental love is sacrificial, whole-hearted, life-long, and often exhausting. You never stop worrying about your children and you know you would do anything for their happiness.
Parental love is what God feels for you. You are his blessed child, and he would do anything for your happiness…even send his only son to die on a cross for you. His love for you is true love.
1 John 3 (The Message)
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.
Love is real when it is given away without any thought of recompense, return, or cost. Love is real when someone else’s needs trump your own. Love is real when it looks like Jesus.
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.
John challenges us to practice REAL LOVE by giving ourselves away just as Jesus gave himself. Just talking about love won’t cut it. Doing love-in-action is the true measure of our love for Jesus. When you live sacrificially for those around you, you are truly living in God’s reality.
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.
When we commit acts of love in Jesus’ name, we are doing what pleases him. He told us to love one another. This is his greatest 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.
So go out today and commit an act of true, unconditional, and sacrificial love for someone who needs love. Just as you live deeply in Jesus, so he lives in you. Go and be Jesus today!