LOVED- forever #3; Love yielding love

  Love and respect I love to spoil my wife – to bring her flowers,    take her out for a meal, see her dressed in beautiful clothes, acknowledge her gifts and talents – but I’m not getting into the Valentine’s thing. Not even a card. Why? Cos I love her! What?! Well she passionately believes that Valentine’s Day is a commercial exercise, crammed full with guilt potential, that is less about the authentic expression of love and more about spending money we can ill afford on things we don’t need. Love is not measured by the extravagance of your gifts and outings (how much you spend) but the level of respect you’re showing. Have you listened? Do you hear and understand, not just words spoken, but the heart behind them [this is NOT a gender issue]? Are you prepared to shape or modify your actions to what you hear and understand?
Love is about respect, not about what you buy, nor is it about what you say! Love is thoughtful, respect-driven, active response to the object of our devotion.
How God loves us [1 John 2.1-2] Amazingly, we see God’s love at it’s height in His response to our universal tendency to choose contrary to His declared plan and purpose, to our rejection of Him as the deciding factor in our lives and instead choose sin. John says he is writing so that we won’t sin – and yet instead of saying it’s because you’ll otherwise burn in hell, he says that if you do there is a way out of judgement. That Jesus will take your side plead with the Father on your behalf (claiming that He’s already paid the price required). In fact what Jesus has done is so immense and liberating it’s enough to free the whole world from the burden of its sin. Any attempt to earn a similar freedom or to rid ourselves of the stain and stigma of sin is futile, worthless, a waste of time and energy. All that’s left is to humbly receive the loving gift and love God right back.
So how should we love God? [verses 3-7] Our declarations of love for God, our outpourings of worship and prayers are empty and pointless if they don’t lead us to obedient, trust-filled action – doing what we hear Him say, what we see Him do. Such is the height, the depth, the breadth of God’s love for us that we be hanging on His Son’s every word, and every prompting of the Spirit, willing to dare anything if only we hear that it’s what He wants of us. When we say we know God it’s necessary that we should back that up with activity that tells the truth of our commitment. It is also a fact that if we do what we believe to be His will we will in that obedience come to know Him better.
Which commandment? The old and the new commandment are the same. It’s earliest occurrence is in Leviticus 19.18: You shall love your neighbour as yourself and for John the later version would still be ringing in his ears from the teaching at the Last Supper in John 13.34: I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you…”. This is the whole point of John’s letter which he lives out in almost every phrase; God loves us so we should love one another. For John what is true is what we demonstrate by the way we live our lives; we know Jesus’ love because of what He did for us, and in the same way people will discover love in us.
The dark of hatred. John denies that it is possible to claim to be in the light whilst hating a brother or sister in Christ, that in fact a hater lives in the dreadful shadow of the lie. He expands to say that whoever loves is able to see the way to behave more clearly because they are living in the light, whereas haters don’t really know, can’t know, what they‘re doing or even where they’re going because of the darkness that envelopes them in their hatred.
And…??? How does this work out for us? With what does your heart beat for those with whom you share this Worship Centre on any Sunday morning? How do you respond to friends and family who don’t or won’t share your passion for Jesus, or even your version faith? Is it love, or is it judgement ( a polite form of hate)? What actions would most reliably carry the message of God’s love, and your, for them? How can you and I be signs of good news for those among whom God has placed as His messengers?
If you hate who loses? If you love who wins? Think about it….

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