Photography, Hand-lettering, and Artwork // Hope Hickman @sincerelyhope.designs
When we feel love, we want to express it. It’s why we have friends over to our house for a meal. It’s why we give hugs. It’s why we feel warm and fuzzy at Christmas time. Love is more than words or gifts. It’s compassion and empathy. It’s sacrifice and a willingness to do for someone else. True love is putting someone else’s wants above your own.
First and foremost, love comes from God. 1 John provides much information about love, as it is one of the main themes in this book. “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God” (1 John 4:7a). God gives us His love, and He wants us to then reciprocate this gift. Jesus told us to love God with all of our heart, soul, and mind (Matthew 22:37). In return, God desires a response from us, one of true love. God doesn’t want us to love Him halfheartedly or to engage only when it’s convenient for us. God calls us to love Him with everything and to do it all the time. So how do we love God? He tells us, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). Well, no one ever said love was easy.
God wants us to open our hearts to receive His word – every bit of it. If we love God, we will accept His word and keep His commandments, one of which is to love others. The point I intend to make about love involves two things: (1) status and (2) compassion. (Nothing more, and nothing less.)
No matter our status (social, career, or worldly), we should never consider ourselves better than anyone else. Mary sets the example for us in this regard. After the angel visited Mary to tell her she’d soon be a mom because she’d found favor with God (Luke 1:30), Mary didn’t react by saying she felt that such an honor was fitting nor did she comment on how deserving and worthy she felt. Instead, she responded meekly, saying God “has been mindful of the humble state of his servant” (Luke 1:48). Mary was going to be the mother of the world’s Savior! Yet she did not boast; instead, she named herself a servant.
Like Mary, we are to be humble in receiving God’s love – and also compassionate in sharing it with others. 1 John chapter 4, verse 12 says, “No one has ever seen God; but, if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us.” We are called to love others who can do nothing for us. As soon as we feel as though we’re above someone else and too good to be compassionate, let us remember the words of 1 Peter chapter 5, verse 5. “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Sometimes we mess this up. These verses convict me as much as anyone else. I’m so thankful for Jesus. God gave us His Son, and God can love others through us; we need only to let Him. As believers in Christ, love brings us together, and we can be identified with God by the way we love. We are told that “all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35).
Love is a verb, and actions speak so much louder than words. “Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth” (1 John 3:18). If I tell you I turn into a unicorn at night, but when we have dinner at 8 p.m. and I’m still, well, not a unicorn, my actions speak for themselves. I may say I’m a unicorn, but my actions – or lack thereof – speak truth. Love should be acted in truth.
I got the idea for this blog post from a sermon I heard a few weeks ago. In it, Jeff Simmons (our minister), said, “You can give without loving – people do it all the time, but you cannot love without giving.” Read that again. These words are truth. They are sheer and utter truth. Love must be genuine, and it must be sincere. Are you giving people the love they deserve? Are you receiving this kind of love?
Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.
1 John 4:7b