Yesterday we heard a remarkable sermon based on James 2:1-9 about favoritism. The bottom line is that in the church and in the lives of Christians, the playing field is level. Our love for others must not be based on personal preference of any kind but on how God loves us.
Everyone knows what it is like to be judged unfairly, or to be the last one picked, or to be ignored. On a similar topic, Jesus said, “It shall not be so among you.”
John, often called the Apostle of Love, wrote it this way:
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.” (1 John 4:7–12)
Obedience to this kind of love for others is based on knowing the love of God. We cannot see Him, but we can know Him. As Jesus also said, “And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:3)
This knowing is not as easy to describe as in human relationships. Christians have sometimes categorized our love into “love languages” or activities that each of us experience that make us feel we are loved. For some it is communication — talking and listening. For some it is gifts, or touch. I’m tempted to apply those ‘evidences’ of love to God yet realize they will be unreliable. God is not always giving gifts or doing anything else the same as those actions that helps me experience human love. Sometimes He is silent and seems to not be listening. How then do I know He loves me?
The Gospel says the love of God was made manifest when He sent His Son to save us from our sin. This is a done deal. My hubby or my friends might need to tell me, or call me, or do something to remind me that they care, but God has done the ultimate. He answers prayer and sends the Holy Spirit to give and assurance to my heart, but the ultimate evidence of His love is Jesus Christ on the cross!
“. . . If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? . . . No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31–39)
I cannot doubt the love of God when my focus is on His gift of Jesus. Thinking about Him and what He has done builds a response of loving Him. As Tozer writes, “Once the seeking heart finds God in personal experience there will be no further problem about loving Him. To know Him is to love Him and to know Him better is to love Him more.”
Jesus, You gave Your life for me. Even though I am a selfish person who has resisted and doubted You, You gave Your life for me. None of what You have done depends on my worth or efforts. You did it because it is Your nature to love. On top of that, You hear and answer prayer and bless me with an abundant live and the peace and joy of the Holy Spirit. Your love is amazing and I am so grateful to know and love You.