I realized as I began to prepare today’s post that it has a similar “theme” as my last post, Loved and Wanted. For a minute, because of that, I thought maybe I needed to change it, but I don’t think I do. I think God gives just the right thing at the times that He does for a purpose. I even had a different post planned for today, but then God laid this on my heart, and so, even though it’s similar to my previous post, I’m going to follow through with it. Someone needs to hear this, to be reminded of it. I know I need this reminder often.
This past Wednesday night at the church where I volunteer with the youth, the youth service was completely led by the seniors who are graduating in one short week. It was their chance to share with those younger than them some of what they have learned before they head out into the great big world. A chance for them to leave behind some words of wisdom. And they hit it spot on. From the worship to the prayer time to the message. You could see their hearts and what God’s been doing in them in all that they chose to do in the service.
Through worship, they led us into the presence of the Lord. Through a set aside prayer time, they demonstrated just how important prayer is. That it’s important to take time opening up to the Lord and letting Him speak to you. That it’s important to lift others up in prayer. That there is unimaginable power in prayer.
Through the message, they left the youth group with their “final” words. The two that gave the message shared how they had debated over topics, searching out what was truly the most important thing for them to emphasize, to leave these youth with. Lots of topics came to mind. Service. Unity. But then, God impressed upon both of them the one that really is the most important. Not because they say so, but because He says so. And that’s what this post is going to be about because it’s just too true and too good not to share and it’s a truth we OFTEN need to be reminded of. From one day to the next, sometimes from one moment to the next. (By the way, this message is obviously not word for word exactly as they shared it, but the gist of it, what I walked away from the message with.)
The message, you ask? Love. Love God. Love others.
“And you shall love the Lord your God out of and with your whole heart and out of and with all your soul (your life) and out of and with all your mind (with your faculty of thought and your moral understanding) and out of and with all your strength. This is the first and principal commandment. The second is like it and is this, you shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” -Mark 12:30-31, AMPC
“If I [can] speak in the tongues of men and [even] of angels, but have not love (that reasoning, intentional, spiritual devotion such as is inspired by God’s love for and in us), I am only a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers (the gift of interpreting the divine will and purpose), and understand all the secret truths and mysteries and possess all knowledge, and if I have [sufficient] faith so that I can remove mountains, but have not love (God’s love in me) I am nothing (a useless nobody). Even if I dole out all that I have [to the poor in providing] food, and if I surrender my body to be burned or in order that I may glory, but have not love (God’s love in me), I gain nothing.” -1 Corinthians 13:1-3, AMPC
But in order to do that, you have to know that Jesus loves you. You have to get a little taste of that. We love because He first loved us.
“We love Him, because He first loved us.” -1 John 4:19, AMPC
If we want to love God and love people, we need to know and believe His love for us ourselves. We need to walk in His love. The natural response to His love then is to love Him back. And then to love others. Out of His love for us, when we accept it, flows back love for Him and love for others.
The truth is Jesus loves me. He loves you. He loved and knew us, both the good and the bad parts, before He ever even created us. And still He chose to create us. And still He chose to love us. And still He chose to pursue us and woo us and make us His. We can freely admit to Him our battles, our struggles, our sin, our imperfections because He already knows them and He still loves us. That is TRUTH to stand on.
“But God shows and clearly proves His [own] love for us by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) died for us.” -Romans 5:8, AMPC
When we begin to grasp even a portion of that, to begin to believe in His extravagant, amazing, all encompassing love for us, we will want to love Him back. As we begin to love Him back, spending time with Him, getting to know Him and just how much He loves us, the more we love Him. Because He first loved us, we can love Him back. And the more we know Him, the more He grows that love in our hearts. The more we love Him, the more He works in our hearts to love others. His love begins to flow in our hearts to love others. And not just those who are pleasant to us, but even those whom we struggle with. God’s love is perfect. And when we let Him, He has the power to love others through us. We can’t love them the way He does on our own, but with Him, we can love with an unconditional love. We can love even those who don’t love us back. How? Because that’s the kind of love that He loves with.
I’m still walking in this journey and learning it. My prayer is to fall more in love with Jesus every day, and that from that, His love will overflow out of me for those He’s called me to love, even the “unlovable.” On my own and in my flesh, I can’t do this. But He can. I think it will take a lifetime to grasp the infinite, powerful love of God. I look forward to Him growing me and changing me in His love in this life. I look forward to each bit that He helps me grasp the magnitude of His love for us.
These youth are getting it. And it’s so exciting to see what God is doing in them. I am blessed by them. I’m so encouraged to see that they “get it.” And they’re sharing it with those around them. I pray that as they go out into the unknown of the next stage of their lives, that they continue to walk in what God has shown them now. That the hard things and the struggles and the discouragements that will come their way will not deter them from what God has planted in their hearts now; that instead, all those things will only serve to cause that Truth to grow and flourish. I’m excited to see what God does through them.
“And so faith, hope, love abide [faith-conviction and belief respecting man’s relation to God and divine things; hope-joyful and confident expectation of eternal salvation; love-true affection for God and man, growing out of God’s love for and in us], these three; but the greatest of these is love.” -1 Corinthians 13:13
Lord, thank You for Your amazing love for me. Help me to believe it and walk in it.