Monday, April 7, 2008

Loving Well

Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. 1 Peter 1:22

From Genesis to Revelation, love is the theme of the Bible. It shows us that God has a high esteem for His children and we should, in turn, have high regard for Him and other people. The Bible is the greatest love story ever written. It was because of God's unconditional love for us that He sent His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross (John 3:16, 1 John 4:10).

The Bible says that "God is love." It is the major part of His nature. His love exceeds our understanding (Ephesians 3:19), it is everlasting (Jeremiah 31:3), and endures forever (Psalm 106:1).

We were all created with a deep need to be loved and to love others. We can love one another deeply because we have been cleansed from our sins when we accepted Jesus into our lives. We are to see to it that we love each other that way. (1 Peter 1:22). If we know we don't have that kind of love in our hearts for others, we need to ask God to give us that kind of love. Jesus said that it is our love for one another that proves we are His disciples(John 13:34-35).

No other time in the history of Christianity did love characterize the entire church as it did in the first three centuries. And Roman society took notice! Tertullian (an early church father) reported that the Romans would exclaim, "See how they (the Christians) love one another!" The Believers were proving that they were Jesus' disciples by their love for one another.

Not only are we called to love our brothers and sisters, but all people, even our enemies. Jesus said that we are to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. When we do this we are acting as true children of God. (Matt:5:44). What good would we be if we did everything right, knew all the right answers, but didn't have love? We would be of no value whatsoever. (1 Cor. 13:1-3). We are nothing without love.

The Bible describes love as:

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Love will last forever... There are three things that will endure - faith, hope and love - and the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:4-13 NLT).

Love will impact our world like nothing else. There is one time in my life, a few years ago, when I witnessed deep love. This love still influences me today. I was staying at my parents home. They just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary the year before. We just found out that my father was dying from a brain tumor. He was at home under hospice care. The nurses checked in on him daily, but it was really my mother who took care of him.

She poured her heart into caring for and loving him. She tried to make him as comfortable as possible during those last days. I remember watching her and noticing the love she displayed. It was so genuine and profound. I've never seen anything like it before. I watched her closely, even though she didn't know I was looking. I never said anything about it to her. I just watched as she gave him his medicine, curled up next to him on his bed, and sat beside him throughout the night tenderly holding his hand and caressing his arm. It was a precious sight. When the Lord took him home I heard my mother say her last goodbyes. This was an experience I will never forget. She showed much love, not necessarily by her words, but by her actions.

Several weeks later, I left to come back to my own home. I thought often about what I witnessed. I know now how a display of love can change people. It changed me. My mother's example has touched my life and God has used it to help me love my husband and children better than I did before.

We may never know how our example can touch someone's life. We are being watched every day by someone. Let's follow the example of the early church and my mother. When people see that we love well, they are drawn closer to the heart of God. The Bible says it is the most excellent way (1 Cor. 13:1) and I believe it!

Lord, thank You for your example of love when You sent Jesus to die for us. That is the ultimate love! Thank you for the examples of others in history and those in our midst today. Help us to love others well. Let our examples speak loud and clear so that hearts will be drawn to You. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Crystal Beavin

April 7, 2008

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