1 John 4:19 | We love because he first loved us.
We should be astonished at the goodness of God, stunned that He should bother to call us by name, our mouths wide open at His love, bewildered that, at this very moment, we are standing on holy ground. ― Brennan Manning
First Corinthians 13:4–7 tells us:
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
Love is the foundation that God has called us to construct our lives upon. After all, if we follow Jesus, perfect love already is the foundation of our lives. But we aren’t just called to love our Lord Jesus Christ. Second and “equally important,” says Jesus, is to love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:31).
I know what some of you are thinking: “But you haven’t met my neighbors, they’re crazy!” Or “But sometimes I just have a bad day. What then?” Although loving others might be hard to do sometimes, we need to remember that Jesus’ statement to love isn’t a request; it’s a command.
Ask yourself how you can be a representation of God’s love today. When God desired to show us His love, He sent Jesus to die on the cross for our sins (John 3:16). What an incredible act of service, selflessness, and sacrifice—all done to show a real and tangible representation of the invisible God. (It was actually the ultimate act. In John 15:13, Jesus tells us, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”)
Love without sacrifice isn’t really love in the first place; it’s kindness. The greatest example of true sacrificial love can be found in the blood of Jesus Christ. That’s not just “kindness” or “being nice.” Jesus’ sacrificial love was and is the most important act of all time. Nothing else compares. His love spares us from a life separated from God, and it opens us up to eternal life spent resting in His perfection. Be an example of love, and let those around you know how much you really care.
Be honest with yourself in answering these questions: Are you loving others the way Jesus loves you? What steps can you take to be a visible, tangible, and reflective image of God’s love this year?