“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son the propitiation of our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.”
I John 4:7-12
God is love. God demonstrated His love for us through sacrifice, giving His precious Son so that we could live. God initiated love towards us, He loved us first. His love was not a response to some good we had done. These truths about God and His love are at the core of who we are and how we were created. Every single one of us longs to be loved, we long to feel valued, important, significant.
We search for love in all our human relationships. We start out in this world dependent on a mother and/or father seeking their love and approval. We develop friendships and attempt to feel a sense of love and belonging. We search for a spouse that we hope will love us for who we really are.
But what happens when those people let us down? What happens when there is conflict and disagreement and disappointment? Some reading this may have been born to parents who failed to show love or seemed incapable of doing so. Most of us have had friends that used us or betrayed our trust. Some know the terrible pain of a cheating, unfaithful spouse.
How do we continue to develop a heart of love for others when we have so many broken relationships in our lives? How can I be vulnerable and sacrifice myself for Kristine when I know that her love for me could fail? How can I invest in people and risk so much in this broken world? The answer is that God loves me. Seems too simple, right? The reality is that I must first fill myself with the reality of God’s love for me before I can express true love for anyone else. As long as I seek fulfillment and love from human relationships, I will be disappointed. But when I seek fulfillment and love from God, I will never be disappointed. Everything I need is in God through Christ and I must grab hold of that before I can consistently show sacrificial love to others.
So what does this look like in real life? When Kristine is having a bad day and she is criticizing me about the mess I left in the kitchen or the dirty clothes in my closet I can respond in multiple ways. If I’m seeking fulfillment through her love I will be hurt and I might lash out with harsh words or shut down and sulk, giving her the silent treatment. If I realize that I’m fully loved by my Father I can take a step back. I can see the struggle she is having, humble myself, sacrifice and put my arms around her. In the comfort of God’s love, we are free to risk everything and demonstrate true love to those around us.
The success of every human relationship begins with our relationship with God, secure in His love exemplified in the sacrifice of Jesus. Our stability and foundation in this life is the love of God and when we stand on that foundation we can perfect His love by loving others.