We trust you find encouragement in discovering God's love woven throughout Scripture.
This month's devotional is written by Brianna Bailey, a university student who volunteers with TWR Women of Hope.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” - 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
This may be one of the most common verses from Scripture a person may encounter and for good reason. How many relationships do you see around you that are labeled with "love" yet fail to uphold these qualities?
The world has twisted love into a bitter monster that makes us want to run and hide because we are so used to viewing love based on our own limitations and expectations. We expect to fall in love with “the right person” without checking the state of our own hearts first. We put too much hope and expectation in another human being yet are confused why we feel so broken when someone hurts us. We pick and choose what we want from someone in a relationship, whether it’s financial security, physical intimacy, or affirmation of our worth and call it quits when the person doesn’t live up to our standards. We choose to take the “for better” and leave out the “for worse.”
Love based on conditions makes it hard to be vulnerable, to be humble, and to be selfless because we get so wrapped up in fear that our efforts will be rejected.
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love casts out fear.” - 1 John 4:18
The world does not uphold the biblical definition of love because we fail to realize that God is pure, absolute, unconditional love.
What does that really mean though?
Unconditional love is when we care for the wellbeing of another without thinking what we will get in return. To love unconditionally means that we look past the flaws and mistakes of a person and love them regardless of how they treat us. God is that form of love. He wants the absolute best for us even when we choose not to listen. He never expects anything from mankind, but still He loves the good, bad, and ugly parts of us.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” - John 3:16
We look to Christ because he is the embodiment of God’s love for us (Romans 5:8). He took His place on the cross to bear our sins so that we may have life in Him. He comes to meet our every need. No matter where we are in life, where we’re lacking, or how much shame and ridicule we face from the world, He says, “Come as you are” (Matthew 11:28).
Jesus is not interested in taking from us and leaving us behind like most worldly relationships. He’s not interested in holding our sins over our heads, and accusing us of the bad things we’ve done. He wants our hearts to receive Him so that He may remove the filth of sin from our lives, and He is not going to stop His work in us until it is complete (Philippians 1:6). He’s not just in it for the short-haul.
While nothing in this world will compare to the love of Christ, we can ask God to help us love others the way He instructs us to. Take a moment to reflect on these questions:
- How many unconditional relationships do you know?
- Is your idea of love based on your own terms and conditions?
- Are you struggling in your relationships because of the way others treat you?
We must not forget how God loves us. While His love is personal and intimate to every individual, there isn’t one person on this earth that Jesus didn’t die for. Be mindful of this as you grow in your relationships and seek to love others. Ask God to open your eyes and your heart to see the world as He does and to help you love like Christ.
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” - 1 John 4:7-11