Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food.If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. Jesus (James 2:15-17; NIV)
Love looks like something. We cannot claim to love and live mostly independent lives that evolve around ourselves. We cannot even claim to love God and not reach outto others. If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? 1 John 4:20 states. We need both doing the deeds and doing them in the right spirit. The bible makes it very clear that, without love, we are and have nothing. No matter what we do, no matter how good our intentions, no matter how seemingly spiritual we are, and no matter how beneficent, if we do not love the way God loves us,this is all well and good but ultimately, the one thing that really counts is missing: Love.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 puts it this way:If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing.If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing. (NLT)
I am sure we have all experienced the following situations: We might have got a gift, but it rather felt like a hand-me-down and left us with a subtle feeling of worthlessness. It doesn’t matter of how high the value of the gift is - if love is missing, the gift itself is worth nothing. Maybe someone did us a favour, really sacrificed something, but it just didn’t feel right and strings seemed to be attached. It felt more like they did something nice for us to feel good about themselves and the result is the same: If real love is missing, the sacrifice is worth nothing. Perhaps someone prayed for us, even had a prophetic word, but we could feel good advice seeping through instead of feeling understood and cared for. If love is missing, nothing is gained. If, on the other hand, you think back to a situation where you felt really loved –this might have included a gift, a sacrifice, or a prophecy, but the gift might have been something you did not necessarily desire in the first place, the sacrifice small and rather more of a gestureand maybe the wording of the prayer of prophecy wasn’t perfect, but because you could feel the love behind it, it meant the world to you. Isn’t this just amazing? If we get this one thing right, we can be imperfect and still get it right. Love covers a multitude of sins. God is love and if we love one another what we do is show WHO God is. In 1 John 4:12 it says, No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.
If we want our lives to make a difference, if we want to become more like Jesus, if we want God’s love to be expressed fully, we need to love. If we want to love how God loves us, we need to know the Father’s love first: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 (1 John 4:16-17).
I would like to invite you to do a little exercise based on 1 Corinthians 13 which helps to meditate on God’s love for us. When Romans 10:9 speaks of “believing in our heart and confessing with our mouth”, it does not only talk about how to get saved on the day of our conversion but I believe also reveals a biblical principle: We need to make a decision to want to believe in God’s plan of salvation – that is ongoing healing, restoration, and deliverance –and say it out loud. There is power in the spoken word and speaking out truths over ourselves, confessing with our own mouth for our ears to hear has an enormous impact on our soul and spirit. So I would like you to do the following: Find a quiet place where you can be on your own and make yourself comfortable with a cup of tea, wrapped in a blanket, whatever helps you to feel relaxed and enjoy the moment. Then take about a minute to just sit in silence and invite God’s peace into your life. Now read the following truths out loud. Pause after every aspect of God’s love for you and take a moment to let God Himself speak to you through what you have just confessed with your mouth and heard with your ears.
THANK YOU GOD THAT YOU ARE LOVE.
You are patient with me. No matter how many times I go wrong or how long it takes me to understand what you are saying, your patience towards me does not run out.
You are kind to me. Your lovingkindness towards me knows no end. I am truly safe in you.
You don’t begrudge the good things in my life but are a good Father who takes pleasure in giving good gifts to me, your child.
You are not boastful or egotistical. You care about me and show me grace.
You are not proud, elevating yourself over me but instead humbled yourself, even to the death on the cross. You are my helper in times of need.
You are not rude to me. You do not shame me but instead restore my honour and make me righteous.
You do not demand your own way forcing your will on me. You have set my feet in a spacious place and you call me your friend.
You are not irritable or angry with me, hard to please or annoyed with me. You are for me, not against me and look upon me favourably.
You don’t keep a record of my wrongs but wipe out my transgressions and don’t remember them anymore. You have removed my sins as far from me as the east is from the west.
You do not rejoice about injusticehappening to me but are a righteous judge. You are a Father to the fatherless and defender of the defenceless. You rejoice whenever the truth wins out.
You never give up on me. Never do you give up on me.
You never lose faith in me but you champion me and surround me with a huge cloud of witnesses cheering me on to finish the race.
You are always helpful. You are my rock and my salvation; a strong tower in times of trouble.
You endure through every circumstance.
You are by my side at all times.
You never leave me or forsake me.
You have bought me with a price and sealed me with your Holy Spirit.
I am yours forever.
When reading this out loud you might have reacted emotionally to a certain aspect of God’s love. Maybe you got angry and felt doubt welling up. Perhaps you got tearful and realised you don’t really believe that this is how God sees you or you might simply have felt the Holy Spirit draw your attention to a specific facet of God’s love for you. Remember the grave clothes in the prophecy with which we started this devotional was talking about? Your reaction to a certain aspect of God’s love might be a sign that in this area you are still wearing grave clothes that God would like you to get rid of. Don’t leave it at just that. Take some time every day over the next few weeks or even months to meditate upon this aspect, study the bible in regards to it, pray into it on your own and with others and allow God to give you more revelation and ultimately freedom in this area.
Let’s pray: Thank you, God, that your love for me never fails and never gives up on me. Help me to know your love more and more every day of my life. I want to be more like you, growing more perfect in love. Help me to be patient towards others just as you are patient with me. Let me care more for others than for myself. Help me to be grateful for what I do have and to not envy what I don’t have. I don’t want to strut or have a swelled head. I decide not toforce myself on others but instead let them be free just as you offer me your love freely and unconditionally. I don’t want to think of me first all the time. Help me to not fly off the handle and to forgive quickly. I decide not to keep score of the sins of others. I do not want to revel about injustice but instead take pleasure in the flowering of truth. Help me to persevere in anything and to trust you always. I decide to look for the best and to not look back but to be hopeful for what is to come instead. Thank you that you help me to keep going to the end. Thank you that your love for me is perfect. Teach me how to love like you love me.
"The bible makes it very clear that, without love, we are and have nothing."