16th February 2018

February Devotion

 

He loved us first

16 February 2018

Friends greet each other in Mundri, South Sudan

The human desire to be loved is considered one of our most basic and fundamental needs. In fact, it is thought to be a significant cause of human happiness.

Love gives us the assurance that we are not alone in the world and often motivates us to achieve great things. Living without love can even lead to apathy.

However, psychologists suggest there’s a parallel need that we often fail to recognise: the need not just to be loved, but to love.

We love God because He first loved us

Created to love as well as to be loved, our ability to do so comes from the One who formed us.

1 John 4:19 reminds us that ‘We love because He first loved us.’ But what does this really mean?

To love comes from a place of being loved. ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life’ (John 3:16, NIV).

The cross represents the most selfless love we could ever experience. Jesus, suffering unthinkable pain and torment, called out, ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing’ (Luke 23:34, NIV).

Despite His betrayal, arrest, interrogation, humiliation, torture and death, Jesus still speaks words of compassion, mercy and love.

Theologian and author John Piper suggests it is ‘in beholding and spiritually apprehending God to be the kind of God who loves sinners like us with such amazingly free grace and through such stunningly wise and sacrificial means of atonement, we are drawn out to delight in this God for who He is in Himself.’

We love others because God first loved us

God is love (1 John 4:8). It is the very essence of His nature and character. As we attempt to grab hold of this truth, our response is awakened to love the Lord our God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our strength and with all our mind, and to love our neighbour as ourselves (Luke 10:27).

This call to love is not limited to our love for the Father, but is to be extended to each other.

Across the nations, people are crying out to experience genuine love and care. As MAF’s personnel reach those living in remote and isolated areas, let’s take a moment to think about the people in our own geographical area who may also feel isolated, alone and unloved.

We love because we reflect His love

As recipients of Christ’s love – poured into us – we are called to pour out His love on those around us. This isn’t always easy. People who have been hurt, rejected, abused or neglected can often put up a wall around themselves as a form of self-protection.

The Christian writer CS Lewis describes it like this:

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal.

‘Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness.

‘But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable... The only place outside heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is hell.

As the body of Christ, we have a responsibility to reflect the love of God that casts out all fear (1 John 4:18), heals the broken hearted (Psalm 147:3), brings freedom (Psalm 119:45), and strengthens and renews (2 Corinthians 4:16).

Loving others doesn’t happen in our own strength. Romans 5:5 reminds us that God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.

We love because of His great love for us.

Response

  • Take a moment to reflect on the love and character of God, and how you’ve experienced this great love for yourself.
  • Prayerfully seek out those around you. Consider reaching out to them with the love of God – asking the Holy Spirit to enable you to be vulnerable and courageous as you step out in faith.
    • Pray for MAF as we continue to reach remote and inaccessible people with Jesus’ love. Pray that many will come to know the Lord’s redeeming love.


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