We use the word “love” to describe many affections.
We can love things like ice cream, dogs, cats, signature clothes, beautiful homes, and our favorite color. Love can also be used to describe the emotions we feel for others. Usually, the use of this word depicts an affection that depends upon the object of our love bringing us joy. But the love that comes from God does not seek to be reciprocated.
God’s Word has a lot to say about love. It even calls God love. For us to have a vibrant relationship with God, we will need to understand some things about this supernatural quality. God commands us first to love Him and second to love others. To do that, we must first receive love from our Father in heaven.
1 John 4:19 says, “We love Him because He first loved us.” The ability to minister with God’s love depends upon us receiving His great mercy into our hearts. When we experience God the Father’s unconditional love, we change. We begin to love God in return, and we find ourselves loving people with His love.
It is important to realize that we are not required to love God first. No, we love in response to His compassion towards us. As a flower unfolds in response to the warm sun and rain showers, we respond to God’s love. If we try to love in our own effort, we will fail. We will not measure up to Christ’s standard. Compare a child consistently nurtured with kindness and another who bears the weight of ill-treatment over time. The result will prove that the children who bask in the love of their parents will be more likely to embrace life with joy and kindness towards their parents and to others.
We love best when love fills our hearts. An empty cup cannot quench thirst. Only one full of water or some other beverage can do that. The only way that we can be full of love is to spend time with the God of love. We do this through prayer and meditation on Scripture.
We should read and think about scriptures that speak of the love that God extends to us. God loves everyone but especially those that know Him as Savior and Lord. His children have a special capacity for receiving and then giving His love. Meditating on scriptures that speak of God’s mercy is one way to receive His love. Dialoguing with God can also become a way in which we receive God’s kindness.
As we pray, we can speak to the Lord as to a friend, and we can expect Him to speak to us in return. I like to keep a journal. In it, I write down prayers and wait for the Lord to answer me. In Habakkuk 2:1-3, Habakkuk the prophet inquired of the Lord and wrote the Lord’s response on his tablet. Jesus said His sheep know His voice.
God’s voice to us soothes and edifies. It encourages and woos us. It also disciplines us but always with tenderness. God’s voice will never contradict His written Word. When we receive God’s words to us both in scripture and through prayer, this motivates us to love God and to love our fellow man.
When we receive from the Lord in these ways, we will find that serving Him will become sweeter and more natural. If we try to follow God without His touch, we will struggle and fail. Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29). The Lord wants to nurture us in His love and in His word. As we spend time with Him, we grow into His image, and He empowers us by the Holy Spirit.
Will you allow God to love you so you can mirror His love and grace back to Him while spilling mercy into the lives of others?