Today's post was written by BH member, Jeannette Mayo.
For this week, our blog posts will focus on different areas of obedience that we are all called to as Christ-followers.
Love…our culture, especially us as women, can’t get enough of it. We listen to music about it, watch romantic movies, talk for hours about it, and celebrate it with each wedding and baby shower we attend.
I’m sure we’ve all at some point been loved…not just loved, but can we remember a time we’ve been loved well? Love is a beautiful thing when it’s done well, when it allows us to focus on the Provider of love. As children of God, as daughters of the King, we are called to love well. But love can be hard. It can be messy and, certainly, humbling as we are faced with our own selfishness and shortcomings. But love, when done well, can be an amazing display of the gospel, as our Father is always faithful to forgive those times we fall short and continues to grant us mercy as we strive to love those around us.
What does it look like to love well?
What does it mean to love well? Does our culture have it right? Is what we see in the movies and what we hear in music what it’s all about? I think most of us would be quick to say no, but until we are able to define what loving well looks like, we are going to have a hard time fulfilling our calling.
Thankfully Jesus defines love for us when He tells His disciples “a new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another” (John 15:34).
“Just as I have loved you”… so often I attempt to love using my own definition of love rather then knowing and believing the Word. God is very clear on what it means to love well – we are to love those around us as Jesus loved. If we want to fulfill our calling to love well – to love as our Perfect Example loved, then we need to know God.
God has shown us how to love well through the life of His Son, through His glorious redemption plan, and through His faithfulness to pursue us in His love and mercy.
Beyond just knowing of Gods love, we need to believe it. We need to not just see it on the pages of His Word, but to believe in our hearts that His love for us is real, unchanging, and unmatched so that we may show that love to those around us.
It can be so easy to talk about the love of God – with how He demonstrated it in the life of Jesus and continues to put it on display today, in how He chooses to call us daughters and heirs, in His willing sacrifice and grace, in His desire to know us and call us friends, in His example of servanthood, in His patience and mercy, and in His desire to obey the Father's will.
But we can’t just talk about it.
We have to believe it and trust that the same love that is demonstrated in the Scriptures is the love that He has for each of us.
Praise God His love does not change, that it is not dependent on my obedience, my job, my family. It’s not about me. God loving us well is about who He is and His glory. He is glorified in His love and pursuit of His children, especially in the times that we are least deserving of it.
How do we love as God loves us?
Now that we have a good definition of love done well – to love as God loves us – how do we do that? What does it look like to love well when it's hard or in the midst of broken promises, in disappointment, illness, when no one is listening, when I’m tired or its too time consuming, or when I just don’t have the desire to?
What I am repeatedly having to learn and remind myself daily (sometimes multiple times a day!) is that I will not love well on my own – it is not something I can muster up the desire or strength to do. 1 John 4:7 reminds us that “love is from God”.
From God. Not us.
He is the one who increases our love for Him, the one who gives us a love for His Church, His mission, for the lost, for those we are discipling, for our co-workers, for our family, and for the numerous acquaintances we pass by each day. He is the one who puts love in us, and He is the only one who can increase it.
Praise God we don’t have to do it on our own! Praise God that He is an all knowing, generous God who gives love to His children!
A Roadblock to Loving Well
Do you love to plan, make lists, and see them fulfilled as much as I do? It seriously brings me joy. But often I can approach how I love others in this same way. I get so focused on the outcome of loving someone well that I forget the importance of the process. I have three kids ,and I so desire to love them well. I’m both expectant and excited for the fruit in their lives that will come from being loved, but I can forget the true source of me being able to love them well in the daily. I need to remember that I cannot love well if my plan and my focus is consumed with my efforts and my ability instead of knowing God and the love He has for me. I will not be able love my kids (or anyone else!) in the way that I believe God is calling me to because I am striving to do it alone.
I pray that I – that we – would not grow dull to this, that our standard of loving well would remain high by remembering the example of love God gave us in the life of His Son.
Obviously, not everyone in our life is always easy to love, and as we try to reconcile our call to love with sinful people in a fallen world, I believe we need to be purposeful and faithful in prayer, asking God to increase our love.
In choosing to believe that God is loving, we may then approach the throne of grace, boldly asking that He would increase our love. If only we were faithful as a body to seek the true source of love, if only I was more faithful! To not rely on myself, to not believe the lie that a person, a situation, or group of people is too hard or inconvenient to love, but instead to stand firm on what we know is truth. To know and believe that God is love and that, if we know Him, if we seek Him, if trust Him to continually be filling us with his love, and if faithfully receive and rest in His forgiveness when we fall short, only then will we be able to fulfill our calling as women who love well.
Not only is God able to grow and protect our faith as we fulfill our calling to love well, but Jesus reminds us “by this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). May God’s name be known and glorified by our love for one another! May we be encouraged in our wonderful calling to be women who love well! To know it is not a burden we shoulder on our own, but it is a call to know God deeper, to increase our trust in His provision, to rely on His Spirit, to be reminded of His grace as we receive His forgiveness in our failures, and to see Him further glorified in and through us.