18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
19 We love because he first loved us. - 1 John 4:18-19
On a final note, it’s important to recognize that it isn’t our acts of love that causes God to love us. It is always the reverse. God loves first. We love because He first loved us - v19. We don’t do anything to earn it, and we certainly don’t deserve it, He just loves us unconditionally.
This is how we are to love others - unconditionally. Yet, so often, our love for others is contingent upon how they treat us. If they are rude or critical, if they hurt us or abandon us, we withhold our love from them. Sometimes we’ll give it back to them if they apologize, but only if we believe it is sincere. Usually, though, we still keep a portion of it reserved to see if their apology is genuine. Our hearts remain guarded, and our love is shallow.
Our love for others is to be deep and wide and without condition. We are to love when we’re criticized, when we’re hurt, when we’ve been betrayed - even when they do it over and over again. We are to love those who leave us with deep wounds and those difficult or annoying people God has placed into our lives. We are to love the unlovable, and we are to do it without condition.
Why do you suppose we don’t love as we’re called to love? Is it that we want to protect ourselves from the hurt that comes from opening our heart and trusting someone else? Is it that we want to remain in control? Is it a prideful response that keeps us from letting go? Is it that we are more focused on our own comforts, our own ego, our own needs?
It is impossible to love others as God loves us without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. It is impossible to put others first the way He calls us to love - our hearts are just too self-focused. We need His Spirit of love living inside of us to love others well. Doing those things that strengthen the Spirit - spending time in prayer and in His Word, spending time in community with fellow believers all strengthen the Spirit and allow us to love as He calls us to do.
Trusting the love that he has for us in Jesus Christ, he abides in us and His love overflows into action. It all begins with the love of God. "We love because he first loved us." If you lack the power to love, look to the cross of Christ and let the love of God for broken sinners fill you with hope and love for others.
Press on ~ you are loved 💗
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