Hope Discovery of the Day:
Unconditional love can transform lives.
Scriptures of the Day:
2 Thessalonians 1:3
“We ought to thank God always for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith flourishes more and more and the love of each one of you all for one another is ever greater.”
“I give you a new commandment–to love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 Everyone will know by this that you are my disciples–if you have love for one another.”
“Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.”
Love . . . ahhh . . . just the word makes me smile. How about you? Defining love is not so easy. It can be described as an overwhelming emotion or a constant affection. There are many varied definitions for love, but the four chief examples of love in Scripture are a great place to start.
- An emotional affection based on physical attraction.
- Appreciating qualities in another person.
- Mutual satisfaction.
- Natural love.
- Constant affection as in a marriage.
- Quiet feeling of admiration.
- A consuming passion for the well-being of others.
- Not driven by merit, but by choice.
Of all the types of love, the greatest is Agapē. It is not dependent upon our performance or behavior. It is simply loving the unlovely so much so that we would bear punishment on behalf of our beloved. Christ embodied Agapē love in that He loved us while we were yet sinners. Unworthy, selfish, lovers of ourselves – and He radically demonstrated His love toward us.
As recipients of such a lavish love, we should be the greatest proponents of that unconditional love. But sometimes we forget. And sometimes we allow our hearts to dictate our choices. If love makes the world go ’round, how is it that we would let it grow cold? If love is the deepest need humans have, why would we let it go? Families are torn apart, friendships parted ~ even in the church we can forget that we are commanded to love one another and that love ought to be authentic and ever increasing. Where there should be acceptance and grace there can be found envy and hatred while the world looks on, hoping to find the love Jesus spoke about. But sometimes people are offended by one another and allow pride to dictate their emotions. God calls us to a love that is higher than that.
Love is something we all yearn for, yet we don’t really understand it because we tend to define love according to what brings us pleasure. Christ modeled perfect love for us, beautiful, sacrificial and others-centered. This is hard for us to imitate because we are so desperate for love ourselves.
Love is acceptance. It is security and a sense of belonging. It does not change and is constant. It is not dependent upon a reciprocal affection. Now that is hard. What about when someone believes and says false things about you? What about when someone leaves you? Yes, even then, love can be constant ~ but it does not mean people will always be able to have access to us if the relationship is unhealthy.
The church is the reflection of Christ to this world. The world does not know how to love but looks to the church to demonstrate Christ-like love. This means we have to figure out how to not just get along with brothers or sisters who might not like us, but to show them love, anyway.
Love does not stop. It is to be ever increasing. Phew. This is not the norm. Love notes abound early on in relationships, but as time ebbs away, so can love’s passion. Growing complacent in our affection is not what Christ wanted for us. We are to be a passionate, caring people in a world that desperately needs care. He commands it. Anything He commands He will give us grace to do if we will just ask Him. But we must be willing and obedient.
Love is action – not just feelings. It requires planning. How can we demonstrate love to those in our sphere of influence? In our church? In our family? In our neighborhood? Maybe encouraging someone or caring enough to notice when they are not there. Maybe praying for them or sending them a note. Forgiving, even when they hurt you. Hurt is evidence of present love ~ without love, there would be no hurt.
People who have tasted of the love of God are able to give that same love to others. They love from a place of being loved unconditionally. Knowing that we are accepted by a Holy God despite being unholy ourselves ought to motivate us to love others in the same manner. Self removed from the equation, we love people because God loves them so much and each one is precious in His sight. Selfless love delights in people for who they are, not for what they can give or do for us.
There is just something about unconditional love that wraps itself around us like a blanket of security. Love is a refuge that says, “you’re cherished and loved, just as you are”. The enemy delights in the mess he makes out of people’s lives when they choose to remove their love from one another. This is because love is a powerful healing agent. When our love for one another grows cold, sin abounds.
Choosing to love in the face of hate makes the enemy retreat and heals broken hearts. If we are willing to keep our love on, unconditional love can transform lives. The church today needs to see the need for fervent love for our God and for one another. Let’s not let our love grow cold. Let’s not be a stumbling block to a lost world. Let’s get over hurt feelings and choose to radically love one another more and more so the hurting world will see that Christ really is in our midst.
Lord, thank You for showing and giving us unconditional love. Help us to love as you do. To let go of hurt feelings and keep loving even when our pride tries to get us to stop. Be glorified by how we love one another and cause Your church to love radically and selflessly just like you did.