How can the love of God be explained? The ‘love chapter’ (below, in part) does it with words, yet as Tozer writes, it is best understood when experienced.
We were members of a large church in California whose pastor is well-known. This church had many elders and deacons. We didn’t know many of these people, but one stands out in my memory because there was something about him that is unforgettable; when standing near him, I felt as if I was standing in the presence of the Lord. I realize now that this ‘something’ was the love of God. This man was so filled with the Spirit of God and cared so much about other people that it seemed to flow out of him.
The ‘love chapter’ begins with the importance of love in a description of how it changes lives . . .
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:1–3)
Wonderful speech is not a bad thing, but without love it has little value. Noise can be loud and important, but ineffective. Prophetic power and doctrinal acuity mean nothing without love. Faith that changes things, even moves mountains is nothing without love, as is great generosity and personal sacrifice.
In other words, the very best a person can do, the most miraculous and self-effacing actions and offerings are possible without love, but God says they have no value unless the love of God is in them. I can be motivated by many things, selfish or noble, but love outshines them all.
Of course this pushes me to ask myself how to know what is love and what isn’t. The description in verses 4 and forward are helpful, but not quite enough. I know patient people whose kindness comes across as having personal motives. I can rejoice in the truth and be a pain in the neck doing it. Love goes beyond that because it is not a surface action flowing from any source other than the heart of God. I cannot ‘make’ love come out of me because it is something that God does.
In thinking about those who display the love of God, my best thought is that they love God with a depth that many people never reach. Their humility and sense of His grace in their lives is so powerful that it permeates all that they think and do. This love is about experiencing His love in the greatest and most sincere way possible. It comes to those who realize just how much they have been forgiven and blessed. No pride, no self-glory, nothing in their lives is about them. It is all for Jesus.
First, I thank You Lord for the examples of those who love You in this way and hold up a standard of love that can be sought after and reached. Second, I know I’m not like them, and even making that evaluation proves it. Love is not focused on self or comparing myself with others. God is the focus. I pray You will persist with transformation that I might be more like You. Keep my thoughts and concerns focused the way You want them to be . . . that I might glorify You and more deeply love You.