“May Your love
be the mold that
shapes our actions,
and our very lives.”
If we’re being honest, living out of the fullness of His love; honoring one another above ourselves (Rom. 12:10); choosing to “be a fountain, not a drain* ” — these don’t come easy sometimes.They can be hard to do on a good day, even more so when we’re weathering storms. But, knowing that “in Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28); nurturing a fixed and settled dependence on His grace, come rain or shine — this is what it means to abide.
How easy to become dismissive of the needs of others when we feel our own needs have not been met, to carelessly allow our words to wound when we have been wounded in- kind, to caustically react rather than graciously respond to thoughtless words and actions that injure, to forget we are not the only ones who might need encouragement and a strong shoulder to lean on. The list goes on and on and on.
No cookie cutter list here — our stories and challenges are vastly different and constantly changing. If we focus on how we fall short, we’ll discover a hopelessly moving target. So, instead of patching together a less-than effective attempt to somehow try a little harder next time (we’ve all been there, right?), let’s look instead to the constancy of His love. Any love we have for others begins with the love He has for us and our love for Him. Let’s tend the source and the overflow will follow. Wherever this love flourishes within the family of God, good things happen! To this point, a quote from Grudem draws a sharp contrast when His love is the mold and when it is not — “Where love abounds in a fellowship of Christians, many small offences, and even some large ones, are readily overlooked and forgotten. But where love is lacking, every word is viewed with suspicion, every action is liable to misunderstanding, and conflicts abound … to Satan’s perverse delight.” Clearly, not where we want to be.
So, to get this right, let’s go back to the beginning. “We love because He first loved us.” (I John 4:19) There it is! No mistaking which comes first. Because He first loved us in Christ, we too are able to love. We love God because we are at peace with Him in a reconciled relationship through the perfect sacrifice of Christ, the greatest demonstration of love we will ever know; and peace with God engenders love for God.
There can be no love for God
where there is no peace with God.
We love Him as His adopted children, enjoying a relationship that can never be severed (Romans 8:38,39). Pure joy! If our life in Christ isn’t marked by a steadfast peace, the kind of peace that comes in knowing that we know that we know that we know we are loved by Him and we belong to Him, then letting His Word speak to us regarding this truth would be the most encouraging and soul nourishing pursuit we could possibly embark on. Find time and space for it to sink in deeply, for your mind and heart to be wrapped up in the wonder of it. This truth will be the anchor that holds firm when winds of doubt are blowing strong — I am His and He is mine.
Romans 5:5 builds on this understanding of His peace even further. It tells us that His children have peace with God through Christ, that we stand in grace, and that we’ve been given a hope that does not disappoint because “the love of God (knowledge of God’s love for us) has been poured out (literally meaning ‘dumped out’) within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
He has left no doubt as to His great love for us! This peace purchased for us in the sacrifice of Christ, this grace that meets us right where we are each and every day, this hope unlike any other because it cannot disappoint — in a word, this LOVE that has been lavished on us enables us in turn to love others. In that moment when our eyes are opened, when we see our utter unworthiness beside His holy, sacrificial love toward us and our hopelessness apart from Him that was forever changed to eternal hope at the cross; loving others is the natural overflow of a heart grateful for and humbled by His love. What a good, good Father.
In the valley, through adversity, through seasons of change and loss, it’s easy to forget just how great is His love — even this holy love that has been dumped out in our hearts! Our love toward Him and toward others ebbs and flows. It is imperfect, lacking, and sometimes dim and often doesn’t look at all like His. William Romaine said it like this: “When we consider our love for God and are despondent at the sight of it, we need to look at His, especially when ours seems so little. We aren’t called to be warmed by the sparks of our love to God, but by the pure constant flame of His love to us. When our love is little, unsettled, cold, and dull, that’s when we need to study the divine properties of His.” (2)
God’s divine unchanging love — let’s think on it, give thanks for it, embrace it as our own, and discover its sustaining power through the storm. Let its goodness and truth flood the nooks and crannies of our minds. And when we’ve soaked up just about as much as our hearts can hold and given it room to shape and renew us, the overflow will spill out into every part of our soul and life. There will be no mistaking the mold.
Because He first loved us.
(1) *Thank you, Brie Gowen, for this fabulous word picture!
(2) William Romaine – from “Treatises on the Life, Walk, and Triumph of Faith”