“Love is of God, and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love, does not know God, for God is love.” (1 John 4:7-8) We all think we know what love is, but upon reading the Bible carefully, I think we find that God defines it differently ... very differently than the world, and how we think we understand it. Note that true love comes from God, and the ability to love this way is only given to those ‘born of God,’ which we know as born-again believers (genuine Christians). In other words, if a person does not ‘know’ God (have a submitted relationship with Him) then they are not able to truly love! Also, if a person does ‘know’ God, then they are not able to neglect love!
So, what is this ‘love’ that we are talking about? It is a sacrificial and unconditional care for others, born out of an acceptance of God’s love for us. John describes it further in the passage we were just reading. “In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.” In order to properly understand God’s love, which He wants to share through us, we must look to His example. The prime example given is the sacrificial love of God in sending Jesus Christ. It was sacrificial in that God humbled Himself by becoming fully human, and then took on the sin of the world in His suffering and death. It was and is unconditional in that God did all the work, in the person of Jesus Christ, leaving for us only to believe and accept this wonderful gift.
Many examples abound in Scripture of God’s love being manifest in humans, especially in the Christmas Story. People of all ages can demonstrate appropriately this love. Two examples of this from the elderly generation, are Simeon and Anna (Luke 2:25-38). Simeon was known as a righteous and devout man, who spent lots of time at the Temple in Jerusalem. He was faithful to God, and strongly desired to see the promised Messiah. The Spirit of God even promised Him that this desire would be met, even though he was quite old. When this came to pass, upon the eighth day of Jesus’ life and the circumcision ceremony at the Temple, Simeon responded to this gift of love from God with a love of his own: a prayer of blessing, thanksgiving, and hope for both the child and His mother. What a great example to follow, praising God and blessing the one we love, thanking God and caring for the one we love, trusting God and looking to the hope of the future for the one we love. Anna was also a faithful believer who looked forward to the fulfillment of God’s promised Messiah. She spent much time in fasting and prayer, also at the Temple. As Simeon was finishing up his blessing over the child, Anna approached and sang or prayed a blessing of her own for the child. She then responded with one more thing: Anna bore witness to all who desired the coming of the Messiah, that He had arrived! The good news of God’s love is not meant to be kept to yourself, but is meant to be shared that many may partake. Just in case there are people that you think do not deserve this kind of love, remember that no one deserves it, not even you, however God gives of it freely (this is His grace in action). So, why cannot you do the same?
May this season of celebrating the birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ be a time where God’s love shines through you brightest. It should shine through you all year, but at this time it should shine brighter because of the joy and hope that He brings ... and because people need it most. There are people who are without hope, missing loved ones, lonely, depressed, angry, frustrated, hurt ... these are the ones we must minister to with God’s sacrificial and unconditional love. There may be limitations on our movements and who we may get together with, but there are no limitations on love. Find unique and creative ways to shower this love on the people you know, and see how God will continue to fill you to overflowing with His love.
Be blessed, encouraged and challenged.