I’m preoccupied with the love of God since yesterday when He reminded me of F.B., a man who overflows the love of Christ, and a few others that do the same. These are people that I want to emulate, yet I know that this love is from God and tied to their love for God. They deeply know how much He loves them.
In other words, if I want to love people as I should, my focus must be on how much God loves me. I cannot do that if I am pridefully trying to earn His favor, or if I think I am already good enough. This is difficult to describe even though I know my failures when they happen.
Tozer writes that the problem with the Pharisees was that they had correct doctrine but without love. They did their religious duties in pride. They were ‘God’s chosen people’ but without realizing the great love of God or their own unworthiness. They thought their ritual ‘righteousness’ made them worthy. I know that I cannot think that way. That attitude in others irritates me. I cannot imagine the way it affects the heart of God.
Instead, God tells me He loves me, shows me He loves me. He sent His Son to die for me. By His grace, He gives me forgiveness and eternal life. Because of that great love, I’m to be filled with it and overflow, passing it on to others . . .
“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.” (1 John 3:16–22)
This love is not mere sentiment. It is sacrificial and visible. People know that God loves them when the people of God love them — without strings attached, without needing to earn it, without judgment and finger-pointing. I can never say, “You must live this way before I will care about your or your needs.”
Tozer says it was religion that put Christ on the cross, religion without the indwelling Spirit. Yes, that is true. But it was also the pagan idol worship, the ignorant and stubborn refusal to acknowledge the Creator, the prideful determination that God is not needed, and a host of other anti-God and anti-Christ attitudes. It was certainly my self-centeredness and neglect to obey Him as well.
Tozer stresses the necessity of having “the love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit” and calls this not a luxury, not something added now and again to produce a deluxe type of Christian once in a generation, but He is a vital necessity for every child of God.
I agree. I cannot love God apart from knowing His love for me and I certainly cannot love others without the security of being totally loved, without any love needs of my own. In writing this, I realize why there are so few Christian people who exude the love of Christ. They are unaware or have been duped. Satan’s first lie suggested that God does not really love us, and that has been his chief strategy ever since. Love-needy people do not have the freedom of an overflow, the delight of being conduits for God’s love.
Lord Jesus, this is important and I know my own heart needs to give it attention. The need for Your love is everywhere. Most people doubt or deny it because they measure it by the pain in their lives and in our world rather than measuring it by what You have done. Oh Lord, this world needs to know, to see, to experience the love that transforms lives. So do I.