Being a husband and a father, I have come to learn some things about love. Most of them are probably things I should have learned earlier in life, but often I don’t learn anything I am supposed to until I am in a situation where I have to. I definitely have lots more to learn as well. Anyways, one of the things I have come to realize is just to what lengths love will make us do sacrificial things for others. All of you husbands, wives, fathers, and mothers reading this think: taking care of sicknesses in the wee hours of the night, dropping or changing plans in a heartbeat to attend to a special need, shelling out significant amounts of cash and resources on things that we typically wouldn’t spend on, etc. This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, as we learn from the famous chapter on love in 1 Corinthians that love is not self-seeking and it always protects.
As Christians, we know intellectually that we are supposed to love everyone, not just our close friends and family. Because of this, others should see us sacrificing our time and energy in order to serve them. However, we know from experience that we are much more prone to make great sacrifices for those that are most dear to us. I don’t want to debate whether or not there are different “degrees” of love, but my conclusion based on observation is that the more I treasure someone, the more likely it is that I will do loving acts for them. I don’t think that is necessarily a bad thing, it just shows we are not capable of loving everyone in the same way. Our love is limited in scope.
Our love is not just limited in scope, it is limited in its consistency. It is impossible for us to love at all times, as we often make selfish decisions which are not the best for others. If you think I am wrong, just try this experiment: pick just one person in the entire world and commit yourself to loving them perfectly. Whether it be your friend, neighbor, spouse, children, or parents, eventually you will fail. Our love is not perfect because we ourselves are not perfect.
But God’s love is perfect. It has no beginning and has no end. It is not limited in scope, for it reaches out to everyone, every being, and all of His creation. It is a tragedy when someone thinks that God does not love them, or that He loves someone else less. He loves us and desperately seeks to do things on our behalf. Remember, love is not self-seeking and it always protects. God seeks us where we are and he wants to protect us: not just from others, not just from future perils, but also from our own vile ways. He loves all people, and his love is shown to be clearly in a class of its own as it even extends towards those who are his enemies. Romans 5:8 says “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” He chose to seek our benefit and get rid of the breech between us and him, even thought it is ourselves that are at fault.
For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten son, and whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.
God’s love is also not limited in its consistency. From our viewpoint, love is something like a switch that can be turned on and off. Sometimes our love switch is on and we love others well, while other times the switch is off and we fail to love others well. It is not like that for God, it is not something that he turns on and off. Love is not something that God DOES, it is what he IS. God is love. He cannot not love as that would contradict his very nature. He cannot love more, nor can he love less. In fact, his love is infinite because he himself is infinite. In the Psalms, the adjective which is most often used to describe God’s love is “unfailing.” Consider just two examples:
Psalm 13:5: “But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.”
Psalm 90:14: “Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.”
David and other writers of the Psalms understood the magnificence of God’s love, yet they were not even around to witness God’s most clear act of love towards mankind: send his only son on our behalf. He did this because love goes to extreme measures to take care of and provide for others. In other words, even though we cannot fathom such love which gave up so much, we should not be surprised, because that is the essence of what love itself is all about.
One of the loftiest pursuits one can take part in during this life is to try to understand how great God’s love is. Paul, in Ephesians 4:17-18, writes: “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.” One of the best ways to start out on this pursuit is to think about Christ’s life and how it is a reflection of God’s love. Is it possible to think about Christmas without thinking about God’s love?
As we come to know God and understand the sacrifice of love that he gave for us on our behalf, we are then called to show others who God is by loving others. If we fail to love others, we fail to be Christ-like.
Practically every letter written in the New Testament has parts which encourage us to excel all the more in the quality of love: As Christians we are called to “be devoted to one another in love” (Romans 12:10), “do everything in love” (1 Cor. 16:14), “show [others] the proof of your love” (2 Cor. 8:24), “serve one another in love” (Gal. 5:14), “bear with one another in love” (Eph. 4:2), “make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love” (Phil. 2:2), “and over all these virtues put on love” (Col. 3:14), “May the Lord direct your hearts in God’s love” (2 Thess. 3:5), “set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity” (1 Tim. 4:12), “pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace”.
Thank you, God, for the great love you have shown us in going to extreme measures to seek our good. You came to earth motivated by love.
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s live for one’s friends” -John 15:13
Questions to consider:
How do I relate with others? Is my motive out of love or are their underlying selfish motives?
When I am at a large gathering of people I don’t know, do I seek out a specific type of person (ethnicity, socio-economic status, age, etc?)
In what ways can I grow in my understanding of God’s love?
How sure am I that God loves me?