With all things love in the air and Valentine’s only 9 days away, I’m dedicating this month of February to be the month of cultivating Christ-like love. It’s one of my 2018 goals and I thought it would be great to dig in together.
When we think of love, the chocolate-covered, rose-hued romance of February 14th may come to mind. But what if love means that we see Jesus instead? Jesus who is the everlasting, pursuing, and unconditional Love that covers every part of our soul.
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. // 1 John 4:7-10 (NIV)
I hope today will be the day that you see God’s love and know even more deeply just how much He loves you. His love cannot be separated from you – not by something you do or did, not by somewhere you go or went, not by anything. In fact, while He knew even before we were born that we’d be just as imperfect and flawed as we are, He sent His one and only son to die for us. That’s how much He loves you. That He’d take the weight of every burden you’d ever have and carry it Himself in your place. So, when God sees you, all He sees is a daughter found in Christ. No matter what your life has looked like to this day, He’s not angry or disappointed; He’s a Father who longs to hold and welcome His child right into His arms. And the beautiful thing is that we’ll never be able to comprehend His love. It’s too big for our tiny hearts to every fully understand, but His love is constantly with us and strengthening us day by day.
And if we really fix the eyes of our hearts on His love, I believe the way we see the world and the people in it will change drastically. Because we know the way God loves, we can seize the opportunities to love others the same way.
Consider this: How might God use you to share His love?
Yes, you were created + freed for this very purpose — to love God and love others.
And in the middle of our everyday lives, where things easily get distracting and overwhelming, we may struggle to feel the fire of purpose. Between busyness and negative self-talk, we may look at our lives and say “Really, God? Me? I don’t know where to even begin. Whom can I love today? Will it even make a difference?”
Let’s knock on God’s door with these questions and trust that He’s faithful to not only answer but equip us. He may not give us the next 20 steps but He will illuminate the first one.
So, in a moment of prayer today, let’s ask God to show us where He’s been all along in our journeys. Let’s ask Him to show every thread of our upbringing, our gifts and passions, our relationships, and even our suffering. These threads of our lives are significant to the grand tapestry of God’s love. With your life, He is writing a God-sized story that will affect another’s. He will take the small seeds of love – the tiny acts of kindness that we plant today – and cause them to bloom for His kingdom purposes.The threads of our lives are significant to the grand tapestry of God's love. With your life, He is writing a God-sized story that will affect another's. Click To Tweet
Practically speaking, it’s going to take faith and effort on our part. We can see in Jesus’ life how love was sacrificial. And so, let’s look to the Bible to see practical ways we can step into and cultivate Christ-like love to those around us:
Jesus was rooted in the Father
He says in John 12:49-50, “For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken. I know that his command leads to eternal life.” I love that – His command leads to eternal life. Because Jesus knew who His Father was, His obedience came from a place of trust, rootedness, and expectancy. His example of loving us all the way to cross in complete obedience to God’s will and not His own shows us just the magnitude of what it looks like to practically take courageous steps of love in our daily life.
Jesus showed compassion
In Luke 7:13, we see Jesus meet a grieving woman right in the midst of loss. Overcome with compassion, He brings her encouragement and a living hope: “When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.”” How can we extend our heart to someone today? When God puts a person in front of us, we can put ourselves in their place – see and feel their pain as they do – and bring them a word of encouragement.
Jesus met others’ needs
As the only One who can completely satisfy our hearts, we can look to the way Jesus came + met the needs of others. From the physically impaired to the poor and hungry, Jesus’ love brought a spiritual healing that manifested from the heart outward in so many ways.
Matthew 15:14-21 says: When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. “Bring them here to me,” he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.
How can we put our selfishness aside and give generously to someone today? Just as He fed 5000 with only a few loaves and fish, He will multiply the effect as of our giving when we provide whatever we can to others in order to share love and meet their needs too. Because God is a Father of abundance and blessing, we can trust Him to meet needs beyond our expectation as we practically meet the needs of others today.
Jesus prayed for others
Did you know that as Jesus walked this earth, He prayed for not only His disciples but for all – including you? I love how we see Him live this out in John 17. Let’s model after Him and pray for the people in our lives, the church, our world. Jesus prayed: “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” (John 17:20-21)
Jesus took the time to see + pursue others with His love
One of my favorite stories of Jesus is how He met + pursued the Samaritan woman at the well. In John 4:1-26, it says “He had to go through Samaria” where He eventually initiated a conversation with this woman. And I believe the had to in that sentence matters so much. Because I believe that Jesus as the loving savior He is was compelled to go to the exact place He knew this woman would be. Breaking through what would have been cultural, geographical, gender and social barriers at that time, it wasn’t an accidental coincidence but a purposeful love that sought her. This woman who was trying to draw water from a well in the middle of the scorching heat to hide the shame of her sins. Yet He met her there, right where she was, to reveal His love for her. And what we see happen is that His pursuing love completely changes her life right there. Enough so that she drops the jar, the entire idea of trying to find satisfaction in everything else, and runs to the people she was hiding from to tell them about Jesus. This picture of what it looks like for Jesus to take the time to pursue someone with His love absolutely blows my heart away. This is the way I hope our love will pursue others in this world. That we’d meet them where they are, that we’d tell them there’s a better living water in Christ, and that when they experience this love they’d be unleashed to share it too.
It’s crazy how blessed we are to have this example of the best kind of love in Jesus. We don’t have to go looking for a voice to tell us how to get it done. God’s already done it. He’s led the way, He’s given us all we need within His word and His spirit in us, and that means that our love can go forth boldly today. So what do you say, friends?
Let’s say yes + amen to God’s love. Let’s love others. All in.