This is Love

This morning, the tears rolled down my face at the thought.  The message was profoundly deep and right to my heart.  It was about love, and I learned something that touched an untouched place, somewhere I had not allowed these words to go before.

The message came in my daily quiet time, the morning watch.  You see, I like to read the Bible passages I am studying, multiple times, many days in a row.  This seems necessary for my mind (and heart) to grasp and retain.  I like to write the powerful scriptures down, exactly as they are written, and then think on the words, over and over while asking the God of heaven’s mercies, in prayer, how does this apply to my life?  It is my effort to hide God’s word in my heart.  Hence, the title of almost a decade worth of blog posts by this name.  The passage today was out of 1 John:

By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.  1 John 3:16 NKJV

To truly understand this command, I had to know one important thing: what does it it mean to lay down one’s life?  I asked this question with curiosity, and sincerity.  After all, I could not carry it out if I didn’t understand it’s intent and meaning.  With my online Bible commentary in hand, I read this:

Scott: “It seems to imply not so much the laying down, as the laying aside.”

Guzik: “We often consider ourselves ready to lay down our lives in one great, dramatic, heroic gesture; but most of all, God calls us to lay down our lives piece by piece, little by little in small, but important ways every day.”

In immediate response, I bowed my head to pray as my eyes welled up with tears that began to flow down my cheeks:

“Father, if You ever call me to give up my life for another, as You did for me, I pray your Spirit would fill me and give me every ounce of strength I need to give a love like that.  Yet, today, you have not called me to give up my life, but instead, to lay it aside, piece by piece, little by little, for another.  Oh, help me to do this, perhaps the harder one of the two.  May it be for your glory.  AMEN.”

I immediately knew of the kind of sacrificial love that this scripture was calling me to give.  I realized how much I desperately want to not only be able to to give it, but for the world to know of it, intimately.  My heart beat with heaviness, to wish this love existed in the midst of the unrest in our nation today.  Would not THIS KIND OF LOVE change it all?  Would not THIS LOVE end the chaos, to lay aside our own lives for the sake of another?  Would not THIS LOVE change the world, beginning in every human heart?  

This kind of love did change the world, 2,000 years ago, when Jesus gave His life for you and me.  The blood He shed, in love, gives life to all who would receive it.  And it will take effect just as soon as the human heart accepts that the purpose of His life, death and resurrection is intensely personal.  It MUST become personal before the sacrifice of loving one another has any meaning at all. 

By THIS we know love.  To lay aside one’s life for another.  Why?  Because on the cross of Calvary, life was given for me – and through faith I can receive life.  In response to something SO WONDERFUL, I then choose to give my life for another, day after day, sacrifice by sacrifice.  This kind of love is HARD.  It’s takes self-denial.  But I realize it’s often in the small things: my time, sending a text of encouragement, serving my family, serving others, speaking in love instead of frustration, forgiving someone who has wronged me, my attitudes and actions toward people I don’t agree with, how I speak both in person and on social media, or how I respond to someone I see in need.  It’s is my calling and responsibility to walk in this kind of sacrificial, laying aside of one’s life, kind of love.  In both the small things and the big, each and every day.

For the world to know love, it begins with me.  Oh, Jesus, help me love in this way.  Yes, THIS is love.  

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.1 John 4:10-11 NIV

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