Permit me to get thoughtful for a moment. Have you ever stopped and reflected on the love of God? Have you ever used your intellect and deductive reasoning to come to grips with the expanse and depth of that love? Have you ever let that fully sink in? Have you ever tried to reconcile how a holy perfect God could love the real me?
You could spend countless day and nights racking your brain and killing a whole bunch of brain cells and never comprehend the love of God. The fact is God will never love you more than He does today, in this second. God won’t love me less when I royally screw up, or love me more when I do right. 1 John 4:8 says, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
I’m not saying that behavior isn’t important, I am saying that God’s love is unconditional and isn’t based on whether the good side of my ledger outweighs the bad side. God doesn’t love us because we are lovable, He loves us because He is love and His love never fails. No matter how many times I meditate or think on His love, and bask in its simplicity, it still blows my mind. I will never lose the wonder of it all.
What does this have to do with sabotage and relationships? Everything. Jesus says in John 13:34, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so must you love one another.” Using God’s love as the standard, it seems a tall task to love others as Jesus loved us. However, it is the solution to most if not all of our relational issues and challenges. As we become to be more Christlike in love, we demonstrate humility, the ability to forgive and forget, and to have patience and kindness. It will be hard to sabotage a relationship, at least from your end, if you love as Jesus loves you.
Let me clarify something: When we say love, we are not talking about the the valentine, mushy, stars in your eyes, dewy-eyed, moonstruck love. I’m talking about authentic love, the kind of love that endures through hardship and is strengthened through trials and over time. The kind of love that mends relationships, brings families closer together and forgives and forgets. A love that is patient, kind, unselfish, and sacrificial.
So how can we do that? How do we love as God loved us? We can start by loving God. What would be your first response if someone asked, “Do you love God?” Think about your answer for a moment. You may say a quick, definitive “yes!” You may be unsure and are struggling with how it would sound to say “no” to that question.
Deuteronomy 6:5 God says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” Many years later, when Jesus was asked to identify the greatest commandment, he simply quoted this verse from the Old Testament, adding that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves too (see Mark 12:28-34).
What does it mean to love God? Part of the answer involves our realization that God loves us. The answer becomes clearer as we experience a growing desire to spend time with God, responding to His love with worship and praise. We can do this alone, but I find that joining others in worship and praise to God can have a powerful effect on our awareness of His presence and love. Another part of the answer comes when we realize that though we can’t see or touch God, we can see and touch and serve other people. We love God back by loving others He loves, including fellow Christians.
Here’s how the apostle John put the issue: “We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. We love each other because he loved us first. If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their Christian brothers and sisters.” (1 John 4:16-21)
Learning to love God is a lifetime process that starts with an acknowledgment of His love for us and grows as we learn to serve and love others.
If you wish to have more information on God’s love, let me suggest two books. The first one is “Love Beyond Reason: Moving God’s Love from Your Head to Your Heart,” by John Ortberg. And second, “Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God,” by Francis Chan.
1. How do you perceive God? As a loving Father? As a harsh disciplinarian? As a trusted friend? Is it hard to accept the unconditional nature of God’s love because you have only ever experienced conditional love?
2. Do you remember when you first “got it?” That you loved God? What did that moment feel like?
3. Do you have any idea how much God loves you? Does it actually affect how you live? Describe a time when you truly felt the love of God. Do trials and tribulations cause you to question the love of God?
4. At the end of the day ask yourself this question: “Did I show the love of God today?”
5. Pray and ask God that your love for Him would become transformational and that God would be the transforming agent.