A blog series on being Transformed into the Image of Christ
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
It seems to me that we live in a society where the word “Love” is thrown around so casually. We say it in terms of affection towards a person, in the way we describe the things we enjoy, food that we eat, tv shows that we watch, and on and on and on. Think about it –how many times have you used the word love today? I took some time this week to consciously pay attention to how often I used the word, Love.
Before lunch one day, I had spoken the word love at least 7 times. You may be asking yourself, “what’s wrong with love? Isn’t love a good thing?” Yes, love is actually a good thing, but misrepresenting the word leads to misunderstandings and actions that may not fit the truth of its real meaning.
I would guess that most of you have heard, read, or repeated John 3:16 at some point in your life. This verse is an absolute declaration of the Gospel. It shows us that God gave up his one and only Son for every person on earth because He LOVES us. God loves us in a purely perfect and intentional way. The willful sacrifice of His Son shows us that there is a purpose in His love and that purpose is for our good and for His Glory. His love is forever, eternal, and willful. God’s love for us is not dependent on our deserving of it
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-6
If we look at the ancient Greeks and their use of the word “Love” we would find that they had four different words for Love. But the word for Love, in this particular chapter of the Bible, is referring to an agape love. This type of love is unchanging, it gives selflessly and without the expectancy of repayment. It is more about sacrificial giving and less about emotion. Here, Paul is not writing about the feelings of love but instead, he is speaking on how we demonstrate love to others in a Godly way. By examining these words, a little more closely, you will see that patient means that it is longsuffering and that endures to the end. The kindness of this love is easily seen and comes from a heart devoted to Christ. Because of the damaging effects of envy, it has no place in love. Envy is a result of selfishness which transpires from looking at our own wants and needs first. Love isn’t given to offer a pretty picture to the world and bring praise to oneself. The actions of love, plainly put, are not rude but instead are filled with kindness and generosity that flow from the heart of the follower of Christ. Love is about forgiveness, purity, and truth.
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” John 15:12
As Jesus stood in the upper room with His disciples, He gives them this command. It was not an option or a request but instead, He tells them plain and simple to love each other as He has loved them. And the way that Jesus loved them was that He selflessly gave all that He had of Himself for the sake of the Kingdom of Christ. The ones that know Jesus, know love because He was the definition of it. He was patient and kind, not arrogant, rude, or selfish. He rejoiced in righteousness and truth and not evil and wrongdoings. This is the love that we are told to emulate as ones who have been transformed.
There is a purpose in love. That purpose is that the love we show to others reflects Christ dwelling in our hearts. We are known for our love of the world around us. It matters! We don't just love people when they are perfect or when they meet all of our many expectations. We love them because God loved us. Christ was our perfect example of love. And now it's up to us to show that love to the world...even when they don't deserve it...even when they mess up...even when they are flawed. Because guess what? God sent His only son to die for all my many flaws. Why? Because He loves me.
So when you tell someone that you love them the next time, understand that you are in turn saying that you are willing to be patient, kind, selfless, truthful, and forgiving all for the good of putting Christ on display instead of yourself. Love is fruitful in our lives only through abiding in the good shepherd. Our strength to display this type of love can never be done on our own strength. One will never be able to know, understand and live out Love unless they understand the fullness in which God loved them first.
God loved us so much that He sent His only Son to earth, to teach His truths through life giving sacrificial love and opening the door for us to be with Him in eternity one day. Jesus loved us to show the love of the Father so that we could make His name known and show this love to others. Therefore, ultimately our goal in loving others is to point them toward Christ. Friends, allow me to be direct for a moment. As believers of God and recipients of His Great Love, you cannot say that you love someone without being unaware or unconcerned for which eternity awaits them. Your love should be a display of Christ living in you for the purpose of leading others to a saving faith.
My challenge to you today is that when you say that you love someone, think about what that entails. Are you patient, kind, and selfless, or are you arrogant, rude, and self-seeking? Are you loving to fulfill your own motives and ideas or are you loving to be the hands and feet of Jesus? Thank God today for the gift of love that He has given to each of us and pray that that love would the evidence of a transformed heart for Christ.
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Many of us have mastered the disciplines of gathering as a church on Sunday morning, but what does the rest of your week look like? What would it look like for you to have a tool that helped you grow in your relationship with the Lord every day of the week? I can tell you what it looks like because I’ve experienced it! Your relationship is going to grow. You may even realize that you are forming a true relationship for the first time! That’s what Growing in God is all about! Are you ready to take the next step? I want to walk along beside you. Purchase your Growing in God book today and being implementing spiritual disciplines into your life for the purpose of growth in Christ.