Parents

Benjie Correos, an artist and carpenter, was on an outing with his family on the Millennium Trail that runs alongside the Yukon River. He was fishing when his seven-year-old son Myles, playing nearby, slipped and fell into the river’s swollen, fast-moving water. He and his wife went in after him, and Benjie was able to grab on to Myles and hold his head up. However, the father could not get free of the undertow. Two other men jumped into the river and were able to pull Myles to safety but Mr. Correos disappeared (The Globe and Mail)

Parents live a sacrificial life for their children. The role of parents with their children is found in the powerful love that God has shown us in sending Jesus to give His life so that through faith in Christ we might live. Our children learn more from our conduct than from our words. It is not enough merely to say the right things. We must live out loud the life of a transformed heart.

“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4, ESV)

God’s plan is for parents to help their children know Him and live according to His plan so that they experience the best in life.

1. Don’t provoke your children.

Paul called mothers and fathers in the church to protect the uniqueness of their children. He said, “Don’t provoke your children to wrath.” This wrath is the emotional and psychological disruption in their lives that can give the devil opportunity to make hay with our children. We need to understand our children and the uniqueness that God has given to them. We must avoid attitudes, words, and actions which drive our children to resentment and bitterness.

2. Direct their steps.

God has given parents the responsibility to direct their children in wisdom with warning and correction. We must lead our children along the path of Jesus Christ. We set their path by training them each day in the school of wisdom. We correct them and help them adjust their steps so that they become more like Jesus Christ. The content of this training and admonition is Jesus Christ Himself.

As parents, we want to lead our children to “fear of the Lord” (Proverbs 1:7-9). We teach them to learn and follow God’s will. If we don’t follow God’s will as parents while teaching our children to fear God, then we really are teaching them that fearing God is a good religious lesson but not important in living life. Parents, we direct the steps of our children toward fullness of life in Jesus when we show them a full life in Jesus by how we live each day, not merely by what we say.

So stop, take a breath, and pray:

“God, by Your Spirit, help me to nourish my children, showing them and teaching them the fullness of life in following Your will each day.”

 

Children

One of the greatest struggles when you move to a new city is finding your way. I’ve noticed that some cities have an “easy-read.” Take Oklahoma City. The city’s laid out on a grid with most of the main roads numbered and directional – like NW 23rd street. It doesn’t take long to figure out your direction in that city. But some cities are more difficult. For instance, if you live in a city that began as a river town, the direction of the streets is not always constant. Sometimes the road will go east, and sometimes west. It can be difficult to navigate in a city like that.

Children need clarity to experience life in all of its fullness. Parents have that role.

“And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:6–9, ESV)

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother,’ which is the first commandment with promise: ‘that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.’” (Ephesians 6:1-3, NKJV)

Parents pass on God’s wisdom and instruction to their children, and children obey. Paul called the children to be ready to listen and to carry out the instruction and commands of their parents.

1. Obey your parents.

When we hear someone knocking at the door of our home, we have the choice to open the door to them or to ignore it. Obedience is hearing the knock (instruction from parents) and opening the door (obeying the instruction).

“The obedience of Christian children to their parents is all of a piece with their submission to Christ: the additional motivating phrase, ‘in the Lord,’ is virtually synonymous with ‘as to the Lord’ or ‘as to Christ’ (cf. 5:22, 6:5) and indicates that their obedience is part of their Christian discipleship.” (P. T. O’Brien, The Letter to the Ephesians, p. 441)

Obedience to our parents is the right and proper thing to do. Obedience is what God commands in His word. We obey our parents because it is what God has demanded, and we live to honor Him.

2. Honor your parents.

Children are also called to honor their parents (Exodus 20:12). Now obedience is the act, but honor is the attitude that children should possess behind their act of obedience. When we enter adulthood, obedience to our parents is replaced by honor for our parents.

In Grimm’s fairy tales an elderly man was taken into his only son’s care. Living in his son’s home, however, had its challenges. The elderly man’s shaking hands and poor eyesight caused problems for the woman of the house. She and the elderly man’s son decided to put the elderly man in a corner, at his own table. Everything was fine until the elderly man broke one of the woman’s bowls. So, the elderly man’s son made a wooden bowl for him to eat out of in the corner of the small home. A few days later, the elderly man’s son and his wife entered the home to find their 4 year old trying to make something out of wooden blocks. They asked him what it was, and he said: “I’m making a wooden bowl so that when you are old, you’ll have something to eat out of too.”

God told His people then and tells us today that we must honor our parents. It is not perfection that demands honor, for we have already seen that no one is perfect. God has deemed it important to honor those whom He has placed in a specific position. For God, it is supremely important to honor those whom He has placed as our parents. They are imperfect, but they deserve our honor. How can we accomplish this command today?

To honor means to value them as preeminently important in our lives. We must show our parents that they are preeminently important to us. For those who are under the direct authority of their parents, this command means that we submit to their direction.  Sometimes I am amazed at how well parents submit to their children, but that is not the model that God established. God expects us to spend time with our parents and to take care of them, to bless them, to love them. Again this is not dependent upon their perfection or imperfection. It is dependent upon their position as parents.

The promise God gives children when they honor and obey their parents is divine blessing. As God evaluates the heart of the children for their parents, He rewards those who have honored them with a life immersed in His touch.

So stop, take a breath, and pray:

“God, by Your Spirit, help me to obey and honor my parents so that You may lead me to health in my relationships.”

 

Marriage

As the Master-Craftsman, God weaves the fabric of the life of the woman to be a masterpiece of His grace in relationship with Jesus (Ephesians 2:10). In the same way, God fashions the man in Jesus as a work of His creative and beautiful grace. Marriage is where He takes the two individual works of His artistic power and weaves them together as one. The wife doesn’t lose her uniqueness, and neither does the husband. God in His sovereignty unites them together, each with masterpiece status.

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” (Ephesians 5:31, ESV)

So, when we examine the roles of husband and wife in marriage, we begin with this glorious work of God’s grace in their lives through Jesus. We begin with an understanding that God has made them “one-flesh.” As “one-flesh” God divinely designs specific roles to be fulfilled.

1. Be like Jesus in submission.

The roles between husbands and wives flow from unselfish, sacrificial devotion to one another in reverence to God. Paul calls wives to model this submission to their own husband.

“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.” (Ephesians 5:22-24, NKJV)

Paul makes this earnest appeal for wives to “to place themselves under” the husband’s leadership. This is an attitude and act among equals. It is a voluntary act of love, for husbands belong to their wives, and she submits to him. Submission means that we are focused on “giving” to others more than “getting” from others. Even Jesus submitted Himself to others (Luke 2:51). Jesus is not inferior to God, but they are one and equal in all things. Yet, Jesus submitted Himself to God as leader (1 Corinthians 11:3). In the same manner, husbands and wives have become one flesh, equal in all things. Yet, God designed marriage so that the husband takes leadership initiative.

Submission is to give myself up to someone. Love is to give my life to someone, even as Christ gave Himself for the church. Through an extravagant act of love, the wife should submit to her husband. The principle of loving submission leads to blessing from God. It leads to blessing for the wife and for the family.

2. Be like Jesus in love.

Paul describes the relationship between husband and wife in terms of their relationship with Jesus Christ. The wife is to submit based upon her relationship to Christ. The husband is to love based upon his relationship to Christ. Everything in the marriage centers on Jesus.

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.” (Ephesians 5:25, NKJV)

The foundation for love in the home is Christ’s love for the church. The example that we find is Christ’s love for the church. This love is unselfish and absolutely devoted to bless the one loved. Jesus loved the church so much that He gave Himself for her.

So often, husbands can get their notion of leadership in terms of their “rights.” We want to lead our family, but sometimes all we want to lead them to do is to change the channel to what we want to watch on television. Husbands surrendered to the Spirit however take the lead, not as a childish bully, demeaning and domineering over his wife. Husbands surrendered to the Spirit take the lead on his knees in prayer, at the bedside with his children opening God’s Word, in service to Christ through the church, and in quietness before God seeking His will and vision for the family.

So stop, take a breath, and pray:

“God, by Your Spirit, help me to embrace my role in marriage so that You may lead me to health in my relationships.”

 

Respect and Responsibility

Taking a journey into the backcountry with a team of people is exciting. It can also be challenging. The longer we spend time together with others, the more we have to accept responsibilities as well as deal with each other’s personalities. If the circumstances become difficult on the journey, then each team member fulfilling his or her role in responsibility and respect becomes ever more essential.

The same is true in all of our relationships. The longer we spend time together with others, the more we have to fulfill our role in respecting others and accepting our responsibilities. This is clearly taught in Paul’s letters to believers in the first century.

1. Show respect for one another.

In Harper Lee’s classic novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus Finch is a lawyer in Macon, Georgia during the 1940’s. He defends a Tom Robinson, a black man accused of abusing a young white lady. In the portrayal of the trial, it becomes apparent that Tom is innocent of the crime, but the battle within the community becomes heated as Atticus is threatened along with his family. In the end, the jury convicts Tom of the crime. Atticus, devastated by the lack of justice, quietly gathers his papers and begins to leave the courtroom. In the balcony of the room the black community stands as one person as Atticus leaves the courtroom. A black minister, who is next to Atticus’ two children, tells the lawyer’s little girl: “Miss Jean Louise. Miss Jean Louise. Stand up. Your father’s passing by.” As a sign of respect and honor, the community in the balcony stands as the embattled attorney walks dejectedly out of the room. The scene is stirring!

In relationship with others, the Spirit inspires us to our specific role of respect. In fact, as followers of Jesus, we should excel in showing honor to others.

“Outdo one another in showing honor.” (Romans 12:10, ESV)

Regardless a person’s background or belief structure, we give them the respect they are due (Romans 13:7). We show respect for others because they are made in the image of God. We show respect for others because of their position or place of honor. We show respect for others for the responsibility they have been given.

2. Embrace our responsibility.

As Paul describes relationships in the church, he talks about how each member of the church has been given gifts to fulfill specific responsibilities. We have different gifts, but the same Spirit. We have differences of responsibility, but the same Lord. We have differences of work, but the same God. Each gift, service, and work is for the good of the entire church (1 Corinthians 12:7).

In a similar way, God puts us in relationship with others, and He places us in those relationships for His purposes. He has gifted us for that relationship, and that gifting helps us fulfill our responsibility. In relationships, each person is dependent upon the other, and that makes them partners. If one stops doing his job, then the other’s job suffers. As followers of Jesus, we honor Him by how well we accept and excel in our responsibilities.

So stop, take a breath, and pray:

“God, by Your Spirit, help me show respect for others and embrace my responsibilities so that You might lead me to health in my relationships.”

The Spirit’s Role

One of the most significant ingredients before going into the backcountry with a group is to understand the place each team member has on the team. Some of the group may be more skilled in certain aspects (orienteering), while others may have a different skill set (first aid). There will be different levels of endurance and experience. Personalities also play a part in the group dynamic. In order to have the most successful, enjoyable backcountry trip, the team members need to understand their roles.

The same is true in all of our relationships. Everyone agrees that understanding roles are essential to healthy relationships. Not everyone agrees what those roles are. Establishing roles in relationships, however, is not an emotionally driven journey. It is a supernatural journey.

“Be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God.” (Ephesians 5:18b-21, NKJV)

Our life with Jesus influences every relationship that we have. The Holy Spirit has a specific role in our relationships. When we understand His role, we will begin to understand our role.

1. The Spirit gives wisdom for our relationships.

When we try to figure out our roles in our various relationships, we need more than a gut feeling. We need God to lead us on this journey so that we faithfully fulfill our role. At the beginning of this letter to believers in Ephesus, Paul prayed for that kind of wisdom.

“[I pray] that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him.” (Ephesians 1:17, NKJV)

Paul’s prayer was for God to give us the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. He prayed that the Spirit would unveil the will of God and the ways of God so that we might know God more and more each day. The more the Spirit helps us to know God more fully, the more we gain wisdom in our relationships. Gaining wisdom through the Spirit’s gracious work in us, we see God’s design for us in our relationships. He helps us understand our role.

2. We need to surrender to the Spirit.

It’s not enough to know what God wants. We need to surrender to the direction the Spirit gives. That’s why Paul commands us to be filled with the Spirit. To be filled with the Spirit means that we are completely consumed and controlled by the Spirit. The Spirit illuminates the Word of God and the Way of God for our relationships. The Spirit’s role is to invade our lives with wisdom for our relationships; our role is to surrender to the Spirit’s leadership.

3. The Result.

When we yield our lives to the Spirit of God, then our relationships will be marked with joy and thanksgiving. Paul described it as singing “to one another” with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. The “one another” is significant. When we are surrendered to the Spirit, we will have hearts filled with joyful songs of praise to God in relationship with others. We will have hearts filled with gratitude for God’s glorious blessings each day. The Spirit leads us to embrace our role toward life and health in our relationships with others.

Another result of surrendering to the Spirit is submission. Submission is one of God’s foundational principles to unlock victorious relationships. Submission means that we are focused on “giving” to others more than “getting” from others. It means that we see every relationship as an opportunity to bless another. When we live our lives yielded to the Spirit, then we will submit our will to serve others.

So stop, take a breath, and pray:

“God, by Your Spirit, give me the wisdom and courage to surrender to You so that You might lead me toward health in my relationships.”

 

 

Love is … (Part 4)

I don’t really enjoy going to the doctor. It is not something I do easily. In fact, if things are left to me, I probably wouldn’t do it at all. So, when I am sick for an extended period of time, with a hacking cough or persistent fever, my wife will take the matter into her own hands. She will make the appointment to the doctor for me and then tell me to go. That’s a strong, life-giving love. Despite my complaints and groans at her intervention, she loves me enough to take the tough road for my blessing.

“[Love] bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:7–8, NKJV)

When Paul describes the kind of love that leads to healthy, satisfying relationships, he paints a picture of a strong, tough, enduring, positive love.

1. Love stands up under the weight of disappointment and difficulty.

Life-giving love “bears all things.” The idea is that love stands up under the pressure and stresses of life. It does not fold when the going gets tough in life or relationships, and there are a lot of stresses and disappointments even in the best relationships. Love becomes life-giving when we settle back into the arms of Jesus for strength and stand up to bless the other in the face of stress and disappointment.

2. Love displays a generous spirit of trust toward the other.

Life-giving love “believes all things.” When Paul talks about love always believing, we find the essence of trust in others. Although this does not mean that a person is naïve or gullible in relationships, it does indicate that love displays a generous spirit toward others rather than turning a cynical eye toward them.

3. Love moves forward with a spirit of optimism toward the other.

Life-giving love “hopes all things.” It always hopes for the best in and from others. There is an optimism expressed here that is somehow sorely lacking in so many today. Because of God’s never-ceasing love for us, in spite of our repeated disappointments to Him, He continues to hope in us. We in turn trust God’s continued work in the hearts of others so that we believe that the best is on its way.

4. Love has a warrior’s undaunted spirit to fight for the good of the other.

Life-giving love “endures all things.” It is the picture of the battle-weary warrior who remains undaunted and not dismayed. Jesus nourishes our soul with a continual feast of love. This love gives us confidence and courage to endure, and we in turn pour that love toward others.

5. Love never becomes invalid or useless, but it builds an eternal legacy in the life of the other.

Life-giving love “never fails.” The apostle Paul declared that only love will last as a legacy for our ultimate future. Love will never become unimportant, love will never become useless, love will never become invalid, love will never become a crumbling dynasty that has no power in the future.

“There is a sense in love is never brought down; it reflects God’s character, after all, and cannot fluctuate from what it is. Yet that very reality is what also gives it eternal character, so that it ‘remains’ even after all other things have come to their proper end.” (Gordon Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, p. 643)

Without life-giving love, our relationships will become crooked and empty. With life-giving love, even the most difficult relationships can become filled with satisfaction and health.

How can we love like that? Stop. Take a breath. And pray:

“Father, nourish my soul today with Your love so that I can love others the way that You have loved me.”

 

Love is … (Part 3)

Have you ever watched the slap-stick of Charlie Chaplin, Red Skelton, and Jerry Lewis? In slap-stick comedy, an actor makes people laugh with his make-believe misfortune. On shows like “Funniest Home Videos” or “Ridiculousness,” it’s the not-so-make-believer hurts of people that seeks a laugh from the audience. Life-giving love doesn’t take its cue from these shows when seeking to build healthy, satisfying relationships.

“[Love] does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth.” (1 Corinthians 13:6, NKJV)

1. Love never takes delight over the mistakes of others.

Life-giving doesn’t rejoice in iniquity. It refuses to delight over the misfortunes of others. The term for “wrong-doing” (adikia) is a general term that can point to anything from a violation of the law to injustice to deceit. It is a picture of seeking personal glory rather than God’s. For love to be love, it must refuse to delight in the sin that others embrace. We don’t giggle or grin when they walk a path that is contrary to what God wants. Love is never gladdened when someone else falls.

2. Love delights itself in the right things shaping the heart of the other.

Life-giving love rejoices in the truth. It delights itself in the right things shaping the heart of the other. This is the intense, passionate desire for truth to come alive in the hearts of the other. Love rejoices when those we love live each moment in concert with the truth of the gospel. Love looks for victories instead of failures. Love looks for forgiveness offered instead of bitterness harbored. Love looks for kindness given rather than selfishness embraced.

To experience love in our relationships that produces satisfaction, our love has to be the kind of love that celebrates all those things in the lives of the other that brings God pleasure. Our love takes delight in the deeper things that bring a smile to the face of God.

Our love is on the right track when we long for the salvation of the ones we love. Our love is on the right track when we rejoice over obedience to God in the one we love. Our love is on the right track when we rejoice over the brokenness of the other (Ps 51:16-17). It delights when the other displays a heart broken before God in confession and surrender.

How can we love others like that? Stop. Take a breath. And pray:

“Father, nourish my soul today with Your love so that I can love others the way that You have loved me.”

 

Love is … (Part 2)

Life-giving love is better than a fake smile pasted over a deeper resentment. Love is more than a kind word that hides a jealous, bitter heart. We need a love like Jesus! One that is real and healing and life-giving.

“[Love] does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil.” (1 Corinthians 13:5, NKJV)

1. Love refuses to act in a way that demeans, disrespects, or demoralizes the other.

Life-giving love isn’t “rude” (aschēmonei). Think about how Jesus related to Zaccheus (Luke 19). Here was a man who had disregarded God’s laws and sought what would benefit himself at the expense of others. Jesus didn’t smile at Zaccheus, while thinking to Himself, “What a jerk.” He didn’t demean the man; He sought to bless the man.

The love that God demands from us refuses to behave in a way that brings disrepute and dishonor to God Himself. When we relate to other people, our conduct is a reflection on God’s character. If we behave in a manner that is outside the pattern of His character, then we have failed to love others in the way that God demands. So, “rude” is out of the question in our relationships.

2. Love elevates the needs of the other.

Life-giving love doesn’t “seek its own” (zētei ta heautēs). Love encourages others and seeks the good for others rather than the fulfillment of personal rights or freedoms. Life-giving love that builds healthy relationships isn’t “self-seeking.” Loving like God has loved us means that we seek what’s beneficial for others, not ourselves.

3. Love has a long fuse, refusing to become irritable over the actions of the other.

Life-giving love isn’t “irritable” (paroxunetai). We all have a tendency to become quickly dismayed and angered over someone’s behavior. Paul shows us that the love God demands from His followers has a long fuse. It is not quickly or easily provoked into anger.

4. Love has a short memory, refusing to keep a ledger of wrongs done to us by the other.

Life-giving love “thinks no evil” (logizetai to kakon). Paul paints a picture that looks like a ledger sheet. It is the description of putting the record of a wrong done to the credit of one who is doing us wrong. Just as God’s love “removes our transgressions as far as the east is from the west” (Ps 103:12), our love does the same. Because we love others the way God loves us, we don’t store up the wrongs done to us and bring the charge to someone later.

But how can we love others like that?

“According to the riches of His glory He may grant you to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:16–19, ESV)

I pray that you and I might be captured by the love of Jesus so that His love sinks its roots deep into our hearts and nourishes our soul. When His love grasps our hearts, we will be equipped to love others with His life-giving love.

Stop. Take a breath. And pray:

“Father, nourish my soul today with Your love so that I can love others the way that You have loved me.”

 

Love is… (Part 1)

One young boy had this to say about love: “It gives me a headache to think about that stuff. I’m just a kid.  I don’t need that kind of trouble.” Regina thoughtfully said, “I’m not rushing into love.  I’m finding fourth grade hard enough.” Manuel summed it all up when he said, “I think you’re supposed to get shot with an arrow or something, but the rest of it isn’t supposed to be painful.”

We can add a lot of descriptions when we try to define what love is, but if we are going to get a handle on God’s design and our desire for love, we need to hear how He describes life-giving love. The “love chapter” in 1 Corinthians is one of those places where God helps us understand what love looks like. 

“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up.” (1 Corinthians 13:4, NKJV)

As we read God’s description of love through the pen of Paul, one thing becomes clear. Life-giving love puts others before self.

1. Love extends mercy to those who don’t meet our expectations.

Paul tells us that love is “patient” (makrothumei). Suppose a pet continues to chew on your favorite piece of furniture. Instead of getting rid of the pet, you try to find other remedies. That’s patience. Patience means that we seek the best for those who don’t meet our expectations. Life-giving love extends mercy to those who don’t meet our expectations.

2. Love makes helping others graciously and generously a priority, regardless how they treat us.

“Kind” (chrēsteuetai) is a picture of God’s grace toward those who call upon Him in distress. It describes God’s attitude toward sinners through Christ. Love seeks to show grace toward others, even though they stand at enmity toward us. It means that we seek to bless them with the blessings of Christ’s touch through our personal conduct.

3. Love does not chase personal desires at the expense of others.

The picture of “envy” (zēloi) describes a person who is so intent for themselves that they step on others to get it. This is the person who loves to promote themselves at every turn. Their supreme ambition is their own glory. Life-giving love is different. It demands that we stop looking to get more for ourselves and examine how that we might bless others.

4. Love prioritizes building up others, not oneself.

When Paul used “boasting” (perpereuetai), he was painting a picture of a one-man band marching down the street, hoping that all eyes fell on him. That’s not what love for others looks like. Life-giving love is more concerned about “others” than “self.”

5. Love prioritizes what’s best for others rather than only thinking about self.

“Arrogant” (phusioutai) is the picture of being puffed up like a “blow-fish.” Love focuses on what is best for others rather than what is best for “me.” When pride is a dominating ethic in our lives, then we know that God’s love is not. In a world of narcissistic Christianity, we would do well to hear God’s mandate of love for us.

How can we love like that?

Stop. Take a breath. And pray:

“Father, nourish my soul today with Your love so that I can love others the way that You have loved me.”

 

The Source of Love

There’s something powerful about a bubbling spring in the mountains that flows into a river. The spring is a life-giving source to everything that it touches. A spring flows, creates a river, and makes a lush environment filled with health for everything around that river.

1. God is the spring from which life-giving love flows.

God is the source of love, because His heart is love. All that He does is born from love, and He transplants that same love into us. But if we do not know God, then we won’t have that life-giving love.

“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.” (1 John 4:7–8, ESV)

Because God is love, His nature of love abides within us. The way we honor and glorify God today is to love others the way that He has loved us. When God’s love is the key ingredient for our relationships, then His love becomes a life-giving spring which creates love in our hearts for others.

2. The command to love.

Jesus tied loving God to loving others in an immediate, exquisite way. This became the signpost of His followers and the way of life for them.

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40, NKJV)

So, if we’re going to grow in Christ as His followers, we need to get a handle on loving others. We’re going to obey God’s command to love others sacrificially, just as Jesus has loved us.

3. Life-giving love is unselfish sacrifice.

Love is unselfish sacrifice for the sake of someone else. This is the DNA of a follower of Christ. It is the core curriculum of those who have been made alive in Christ.  As children of God, we are going to love one another.

“In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we 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 4:9-11, NKJV)

Jesus handed Himself over as the sacrifice to so that we might live through Him. The love that we are to imitate is self-surrender. Jesus loved with passion, and it led Him to die upon a cross for God’s glory and the salvation of sinners. This is the love that we must display for the world to see and others to experience.

How can we possibly love like that? The key to loving others the way God has loved us is not our ability, but it is God’s love in us. One of the reasons we live un-lovingly toward others is because we fail to immerse ourselves consistently in the love that flows from God toward us. If we’re going to have healthy relationships, then we need to saturate our soul with God’s life-giving love.

Stop. Take a breath. And pray:

“Father, nourish my soul today with Your love so that I can love others the way that You have loved me.”