“We love, because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).” It is the simplest of statements that provides our most basic motive. Our understanding of His actions shapes ours. The great care and concern of our Creator touches us deeply when we begin to grasp its enormity. It spans all times and places. It echoes throughout eternity. Yet, it is as personal as our name. It is focused on each of us. “…because He first loved us.”
One look at the brutality of a crucifixion cements the thought in our mind. A back that had been shredded by a horrendous lashing. A crown of thorns sits atop the head of the Son of God. Blood drips down His sinless face. Hands and feet hammered to a cross. A spear thrust into His side. The Father sits at a distance, knowing the suffering of His only begotten. “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Our sin did that. How’s that for a portrait of love?
It is incomprehensible. Knowing such a love exceeds our mental abilities. We may read about it, talk about it, even study it but we cannot fully understand it. Yet, it is one of the secrets of being filled up to all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:19-21). To know the unknowable is possible only through the power working within us. The Lord can do what we cannot to bring us to the spiritual place where He wants us to be. Our love is a response to His love. No other motive will sustain us.
It is a never-ending challenge. To live and love like Jesus is a high standard. Yet it is the one that the Lord has set before Christians (Ephesians 5:1-2). He has given us a second chance. Our sin slaughtered our relationships with God and our neighbors. The Son has given us new life, and another chance. He has saved us from an eternity separated from Him. Now, it is up to us to show our appreciation for such a blessing.
We have been given the possibility to reverse course and be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). We are not informed enough, strong enough or good enough to do this without Him. Building relationships based on biblical principles brings His guidance into every corner of our lives. That assures us that we have help beyond ourselves, and He bears fruit whose essence is love (Galatians 5:22-23). The human potential is virtually unlimited. With God as our partner, Christians can achieve whatever He determines that we will. The question becomes: What is that? What does He want us to do? Jesus summed it up in a couple of sentences, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” And, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37-39).” Why? Because He first loved us.