John 15:12 - (Jesus said) "This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you."
Walking through a shopping mall, I saw on a jewelry store counter two large bowls of buttons with these words on them: "I Am Loved!" Now, while these buttons were part of an advertising campaign to encourage people to buy diamonds and other jewelry, the message on them reminded me that I am loved by God. His love for me was expressed not through a sparkling diamond, but through a rough-hewn cross. There Jesus died for me and others like me who had wandered and were lost in their sinfulness (see Isaiah 53:6).
But I am not only loved, I can love others. I love my kids and try to remember how each one needs my love in his or her own way. This is good but, unlike God, my love is often marred by impatience, irritability, or an inability to understand. And all too often I am loveless and unlovable as well. However, the wonder is not only that God has loved me, but that when I wander from Him (as I do daily), He loves me still!
Yes, I am loved by God. And because He loves me, I can love deeply. I love my wife and children and try to live with them in harmony. Sometimes though the cares and concerns of life get in the way, and I turn from being one who loves to being distant and unlovable. But even then, when I neglect those I should love the most, God's love abides, and He loves me still!
I am loved by God, and this motivates me to love. For instance, I love the people with whom I work. I can say to each one without embarrassment, and without apology, "I love you." This is true because these relationships—though there be ups and downs—are centered on the love God has shown us and how we are to extend this love to others. Yet, unsurprisingly, there are times when my frustrations or failure to understand someone else's situation result in me being far less than loving and way more concerned with myself.
But that is not the way it is with God. He loves us even though our love for one another, and for Him, is weak, and often fails completely.
And the wonder is not only that God loved us and sent His Son to the cross to die for us, but that when we are loveless and unlovable—even then—He loves us still!
"In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another" (1 John 4:10-11).
THE PRAYER: Heavenly Father, great is Your love for us. Let us love one another out of love for You. In Jesus' Name we pray. Amen.
From The Lutheran Layman, June 1978 issue, "I Am Loved," by Ron Schlegel
1. What areas would you like to improve in your life in respect to showing love?
2. Does God motivate us to love in a way that's beyond our ordinary human capabilities?
3. Without naming names, who's the most difficult person in your life to love?
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