Posts Tagged God’s love

Love Quantified

John 17: 23

I am in them, and you are in me. So they are completely united. In this way the world knows that you have sent me and that you have loved them in the same way you have loved me.

This is one of those verses you may want to read in several translations. Although, the same point is made in all, they have slightly different nuances. As you will have perceived, these are the words of Jesus. This speech is conversation with the Father. The first observation we may make is how normal Jesus’ dialogue with the Father sounds. It is not stilted, formal prayer. He is simply talking.

Then, as we begin looking at his words, we learn that he is in us as the Father is in him. If we stop right there, we have a very powerful concept to meditate on. What does this mean to our lives? Jesus is to us as the Father was to him in his walk on the earth. Everything the Father is resided in Jesus. He is the all in all. Then all that Jesus had, which included the fullness of the Father, came to reside in us. Isn’t that what Jesus says in this passage? He is in us in like manner to the Father in him. This joining of the Father in Jesus and Jesus’ residence in us is supposed to bring us into complete, and even perfect harmony or unity. It does not say that we agree on all doctrine. It does not say we do not have differences of opinion. It does say, though, that we are united in him, completely and totally. If we are not in unity, I hazard to say we are not truly in Christ or allowing him to abide with us. There is no disunity for all who are in Christ and in whom Christ has made his home. I don’t care if you are Catholic, Baptist or even a Messianic Jew. There is only one body and we are either in or out, it is our choice.

This is a crucial message of the times. As we approach the end of this age, we must come into a united purpose in Christ Jesus. Only a united body will reach the world with the good news of Jesus, the risen Christ. As long as we are back biting and disparaging one another, the world will not come to know that God sent Jesus or that He loves us all, even the heathen unsaved, as much as He loves Jesus. Only our love and tolerance of one another will show the world the love of God. The doctrinal and theological points we tear the house apart over are of no importance to God. In fact, I very much believe we will get to heaven, run to Him and argue our case only to find we were all wrong. Those things just don’t matter. What matters is that the world, which is suffering and broken, sees the love of Christ. If we cannot love our brothers, if we constantly fight with one another, then how is the world ever going to believe in the love of God?

Jesus tells us in this passage that the Father loves us all as He loves Jesus. How much larger a revelation do any of us need than that. If you think God loves Jesus, then you must also accept that He loves you that much. He also loves every single non-believer in the same quantity and quality of love. Whatsmore, He even loves those crazy people in the church down the street.

We are not going to gain ground by telling the unsaved what decrepit, wicked people they are. In truth, I can’t think of much the Father despises more than that. They, like all of us, need to hear that God loves them. They also need to see us loving one another. So, regardless of our doctrinal stripes, let us wrap our arms around each other, joining in one united purpose – that is to share (and show) the love of Christ, the love that gives all for the other person. We need to major on love and learn what it means. There is a graduate study for you. It is a subject so rich and so deep that it will take the rest of our lives, here and beyond, to fathom its depths. Let’s just do our best to let a little of Jesus seep out of us today. You will have challenges today, especially if you have to drive anywhere. You will encounter unlovely people whose mind is solely on themselves. Reach in and touch Jesus within you and let him shine on those people. Let the world see for once and for all that God is love and that He loves ever single person.

Christ is in you today.

God is . . . joyful in righteousness

1 Corinthians 13: 4 – 5

Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness.

What do you think of when you hear the word unrighteousness? At some level we hear “wrongness” don’t we? Something is not right. One of the definitions of righteousness means essentially that we are in our right place with God. It has to do with where we are in relation to Him. We are righteous in Christ who has placed us in right standing with God. The other use of this word is the one we probably think of more often. It refers to our personal adherence to a code of behavior or laws. When we hear someone is unrighteous we tend to think of them as being wicked. That is going a bit far but certainly one who is wicked is not in their proper place with God and is not following the social mores or laws.

When I hear the word “righteous” I think of Jesus. I have hung my hat on 2 Corinthians 5: 21, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” Our standing with God is assured. It is not earned. Jesus gave it to us in His sacrifice and it would be repugnant to try to earn it. We are in our right position with God because Jesus bought it with his blood. Of course, our God will not rejoice in our being unrighteous or not in the spot Jesus bought for us. He is not satisfied with us not being in Jesus and standing in the grace Jesus wrought for us. If we do not accept who we are in Christ, the Father cannot rejoice. He can only grieve.

There was an exchange made at that altar of the cross. The sin of the world was laid on the lamb in exchange for the righteousness of God. All of my sin and yours was put on the altar so that we could arise in Christ Jesus in the glory and majesty of His victory and righteousness. Our only task is to intertwine ourselves in the love of Jesus. We put our wrongness on his rightness and his rightness wins every time. The Father is glorified and made joyful when we immerse ourselves in the light of Jesus. He rejoices when we rely upon 2 Corinthians 5: 21 and claim Jesus’ victory bigger than our failures. He is happy when we raise Jesus up above our self-aware shortcomings. We are right in Christ and that is the only way we can ever be righteous. Love rejoices when we abide in love.

God . . . is forgiving

1 Corinthians 13: 4 – 5

Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered.

Are you kidding me with this? Love does not count the wrongs done to it? The person who loves does not take into account the things a person does to them. Don’t get this wrong, though. This does not meant they are doormats letting people walk all over them. No, it’s just that they forgive and continue in love. They may not hang out with the offender anymore; they may know not to trust them, but they do not judge those people. They just keep on loving. That is amazing but that is what love does.

But Jesus was saying, ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing’” (Luke 23: 34).  Jesus prayed this prayer for the people who were crucifying him. I have always found this passage remarkable. Wouldn’t you want to pray a hailstorm down on them? I would but Jesus was born of love. His Father is love so I guess this is the heritage of love that God passed down to Jesus.

You know, we have talked a lot about self-centeredness versus others-centeredness in this discussion of Chapter 13. I think God’s selflessness is at the root of many of the characteristics of love that we have seen from this chapter. God is forgiving, doesn’t take into account the wrongs we deal Him because He is not absorbed with self. He isn’t taking account of all the bad things we do to Him. He is looking after our interests. He is concerned with our needs and even our bad acts because often those actions are a reflection of our own hurts. I think He worries more about the injuries which are causing us to act out than the behaviors themselves. He wants to speed healing to us.

Maybe that is a bit of how we should look at people who do us wrong. Maybe there is a way for us to react with compassion instead of anger. We certainly do not have to be victims but we don’t have to be enemies either. We can pray for them with a clean heart like Jesus prayed and mostly, we just don’t have to keep score anymore.

God is . . . not provoked

1 Corinthians 13: 4 – 5

Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked.

How would you like it every person who loves you loved you so much that they could not be provoked? That is an amazing thought. Some people have a concept of God being an angry God. All I can say to that is, “They don’t know Him.” The Word says that He is not provoked to anger and I believe this to be true because I think I have tested the theory sufficiently. The mere fact that some of us are still on the planet instead of vaporized speaks to God’s unwavering patience.

God is not reactionary. He decided to love us long before we were born to the earth. Furthermore, He knew what He was getting back in the beginning. It’s not like our shortcomings are some big surprise to Him. He loved us and chose us before He sent Jesus to the cross. Consider this for a moment. When faced with the decision of sending His beloved to the earth to die for you and I He considered what He would get; He looked into the future and saw us and sent Him anyway. So, how can He be provoked now? He is not surprised though He may grieve a little from time to time but He also appointed an intercessor for us who would pray without ceasing. That intercessor is Jesus.

No matter what we do; regardless of the boneheaded things we may say, our Father loves us infinitely. He loves us with a love so pure that it shines and saves. It contains His glory and His radiance and it is this that, more than anything else, He wishes to rain on us. He just wants to love His kids with an active love.

So, don’t worry if you blew it yesterday. You did not provoke Him to anger. I can promise you that. And if you make a monster blunder tomorrow, He has already considered it and decided to love you unequivocally anyway. Can I tell you the truth? Your sins are not big enough to provoke the Father. I am not saying they make Him happy but the blood of Jesus shouts louder than anything you can ever do. It sings to God on your behalf. You are the beloved of God. I don’t want you to sin, but more importantly I want you to know that your sin is not bigger than God’s love for you. You are safe because love cannot be provoked, therefore, God is not provoked.

God is . . . not unbecoming

1 Corinthians 13: 4- 5

Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly.

How obvious is this truth? How can you say you love me if your actions are unbecoming. Okay, do you want some synonyms for unbecomingly? Here are just a few: improperly, inappropriately, indelicately, incorrectly, unsuitably. Anyone who behaves in any of these manners towards us does not love us. Period. There is no excuse for these categories of actions from anyone who says they love us. This chapter of 1 Corinthians defines love for us. In so doing, it establishes boundaries and expectations for human relationships even as it describes God.

Your heavenly Father would never act inappropriately with you. You are always safe with Him. That is important for you to know. He will never be indelicate or improper. There is nothing about you that He does not know but that does not mean that He will ever violate your privacy or your boundaries. He is kind, gentle and caring. He is nurturing and sensitive to your needs.

You should expect every one of your friends and associates to respect your healthy boundaries as well. It is never okay for the person who says they love you or anyone else to ever act inappropriately towards you. I know we all tend to make mistakes but, you should have very firm lines drawn and if people step over them, even once, you should let them know that is not acceptable. They may not realize where your boundaries are or they could have made an honest mistake. None the less, God wants you to have healthy relationships and this necessarily means surrounding yourself with people who will not behave unbecomingly towards you. Love never violates your personal borders, and it does not act improperly. Love honors you and respects you. God’s love always makes you feel safe and treasured.

God is . . . not arrogant

1 Corinthians 13: 4

Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant.

It is interesting that love is known not only for what it is but also for what it is not. It can be hard to describe what love is but we all understand the imagery suggested by what love is not. Still, you may be a little surprised that “not arrogant” is included in a description of love. So, what does arrogance look like and how does that contrast with love?
Some synonyms for arrogance are: conceit, haughtiness, egotism, and superiority. None of these sound like God. Our Father is not one to brag or self-promote. Love puts other people in first position and that is what God does. Also, arrogance comes often in comparison. Behaving in a superior or haughty manner is often more about putting someone else down in order to elevate oneself. God has no need to build Himself up. There is no one like God; no one even to compare with Him.

Truly there is no room for arrogance in love. Love shouldn’t be self-effacing but it should be modest, putting the love of the other person ahead of selfish, arrogant aims. Because God is love, His first thought is always about you. This is true. He isn’t worrying about Himself. He is fine and He is secure. Everything He has ever done, everything He does is for your welfare. He is not prideful, arrogant or boastful. He is kind, modest, meek and gentle. He is not out to prove how great He is or even to have you constantly bowing and kowtowing to Him. He made you a child. You are His beloved. There is no room for prideful or arrogant expression in true love. Love is not arrogant and thus neither is God.

God is . . . not jealous

1 Corinthians 13: 4

Love is patient, love is kind, and [love] is not jealous.

We have heard that God is a jealous God (Exodus 20: 5), so how does this make sense? Well, it is true. As the song says, “God don’t play second fiddle.” He will have no other gods before Him. However, His love is not jealous and in a general sense He is not. He just will not abide idolatry and that is very different. I think you can easily distinguish these expressions of God’s preeminence as your God from jealous love.

He is more than happy for you to have many loves. In fact, He has told us that we ought to love one another even as He has loved us (John 13: 34). He desires that we be unified in love even as He and Jesus are one (John 17: 21). You see, love is not jealous.

Love, and therefore God, always wants the best for us. It isn’t selfish or controlling. It doesn’t take things or people away from us because it wants all of our attention. If someone in your life demonstrates these traits, then their love for you is not mature. This should be an immediate danger sign for you. Jealousy is not of God and is not godly. Further, there is no place in love for jealousy. What that person feels for you may be need or desire but it is not love.

God wants your time but He does not want to dominate your time or attention. His plan would be for you to take Him along on your run or your dinner out with friends. He does not have to be the center of attention and He does not want you to neglect the other parts of your life. His is a healthy love and as such is the model we should use in our interpersonal relationships. If people need to control us, they don’t love us. God wants you happy and healthy. His is a true love. He is not jealous.

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