Last week, as a prelude to the next few weeks as we go through Lent together, I began a study on the topic of love and all it means. Love is our theme for Lent and so…. this almost sounds like a Valentine’s message but in reality, it is about proclaiming what all God’s love is and means to us and also how we should be showing it more in our own lives. We are going to look at a lot of things in the next few weeks and I pray you are transformed by what we look at together. I left off last week by all the ways God shows His love to us. Today, I pick that up by beginning with this statement:
God’s perfect, everlasting, sacrificial, unconditional love is…IMMEASURABLE! The apostle Paul said in Ephesians 3:17-18 that we need to be able to “comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height” of God’s love. He also said in verse 19 that His love, “passes knowledge.” In other words, we can never take it in. Even among we mortals, people have a hard time taking in sometimes how much they are loved by another; sometimes they are too cynical to believe it. But with God, there is no question we cannot comprehend it.
One of my very favorite songs was done by the legendary George Beverly Shea. It was called “The Love of God.” The lyrics start this way, “The love of God is greater far, than tongue or pen can ever tell. It goes beyond the highest star and reaches to the lowest hell. The guilty pair, bowed down with care, God gave His Son to win, His erring child He reconciled, and pardoned from his sin. Could we with ink the ocean fill, and were the skies of parchment made were every stalk on earth a quill. And every man a scribe by trade to write the love of God above, would drain the ocean dry nor could the scroll contain the whole though stretched from sky to sky.’
That is immeasurable love. It is perfect, unearned, everlasting, unconditional, sacrificial and immeasurable. It should consume our every day and cause us to be so moved by it that we share it with everyone. We are called to love. Deuteronomy 6:5 says we are to love God with all our being, all of it, every part of it. We can only do that with obedience. That may sound strange but love involves obedience as John says in John 14. If we really love God we will discard and ask for forgiveness for our sin and forgive others. And to forgive others, and to love others, we need to love ourselves.
Jesus says in Mark 12:31 that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves. That to some sounds narcissistic, because our world has corrupted self love into this motto… “Look out for number 1”. The Bible does not mean that. It means that we are God’s creation, His workmanship and worth loving. Satan likes to tell us the opposite and sometimes other people will tear us down and feed that by telling us we are no good and not worth anything. But we are. We are God’s workmanship. We are not perfect but He sees in us possibility and promise. God thinks we are worth it because Jesus went to the cross for us. We are valuable. God sees worth in us even if no one else does. From that we then are to love others.
That is the hallmark of a real Christian and it means to love the unlovable as well. Love, catch this, is not an emotion, it is a DECISION. We can choose to love someone through our will and the Holy Spirit. We can transform people by our love for them. I know, some cannot handle love; some have trouble showing it or are inconsistent in showing it. But real God like agape love loves without expecting anything in return. That is the transforming power of love. And we are also to love our enemies. That takes the indwelling Holy Spirit for us to do that but it is not a suggestion by God but an expectation.
And I want to stress this and it’s Biblical. Love is not a feeling. People get in trouble when that is what they think because feelings fluctuate and change day-to-day and even hour-by-hour. Real love demands determination and discipline. It is not feelings. Let me give you an example. A guy who decided to show his wife his love by taking her shopping. He hated going where she wanted to go but he did. He put his feelings above his. Simple example but it works. To top it off, she asked for his advice in some certain departments. He absolutely did not want to go there but he did. He did not do it because he wanted to but because he did it as an act of love.
Let me share another story with you. A young lady walked into a fabric shop, went to the counter and asked the owner for some noisy, white material. The owner found two bolts of fabric but was puzzled by the young woman’s motives. Why would anyone, he wondered, want several yards of this stuff for a wedding dress? So he asked her. She answered, “You see, I am making, as I said a wedding gown, and my fiancé is blind. When I walk down the aisle, I want him to know when I have arrived at the altar so he will not be embarrassed.”
That is the kind of love she had for the fiancé.
Again, a simple story but it is all about simple sacrificial love, self-giving love. None of us are perfect at it. Demands and our own flaws can negate that at times, but as God sees us in His own special way, we are called upon to reflect the same kind of love.
Remember this, God’s love for us is immeasurable and not based on feelings though His feelings for us are clear. People threw rocks at His Son, Jesus, and hit Him with sticks. They even killed Him, but He loved them anyway. That is the kind of love the world needs to know and practice. It is the transforming, positive; forgiving kind of love this world needs and can have through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Next week, more on love and what it can mean in your life. Join me.