Do I know how much God loves me? I mean, really know deep down in my heart and soul? It doesn’t matter where I’m at in my journey with God; He keeps bringing me back to this. And with that comes the question, “Do I love others and see others the way God loves and sees them?”
I re-read through the New Testament this year and as always before I read anything, I asked God to speak to me through what I was reading. I found myself underlining so many verses about Christ having compassion on the people. It was such a beautiful thing. These were people most other law-abiding people turned away or condemned and accused. Jesus loved the least of the least, had compassion on them, and healed them! And that’s what He’s called us to do!
I know I’ve only had small glimpses of Christ’s love, but it’s enough to keep me coming back for more. It’s amazing how freeing seeing through the eyes of Love can be. For too long, I had lived under the weight of feeling like I had messed up too much to be loved by God. I would never speak anything like that over anyone else’s life, but I believed so many twists of the verses in Hebrews 6 about falling away from salvation, that I thought I who once tasted God’s incredible gift had fallen too far from His grace. I became like the people described by J.S. Park trying to earn Christ’s love:
” I meet Christians who are super-glossy, picture-perfect, law-abiding people, but they are absolutely miserable and difficult to be near. Their every movement is dictated by a strict rigid ruleset that is motivated by a desperate fear. If your efforts are not driven by grace — that God absolutely loves you no matter what — then you will punish yourself towards an invisible standard that looks like success but feels like slavery. Such a standard might work for a little while to conform your behavior, but it will never become a part of you: it’s just an apparatus that imprisons you. Only grace can truly be internalized to melt your heart, and though it can take longer, a truly tenderized heart follows God with all joy and perseverance. This is motivation by grace and grace alone. ”
I was miserable. There were many times in my marriage that I looked like a modern-day Proverbs 31 woman on the outside, but as I mentioned before, a lot of it came from a striving out of an insecurity that I was unloved. I would see and hear about all these women who were overwhelmingly loved by their husbands and while I’ve always wanted other women’s husbands to show their wives love, because I wasn’t loved even with how much I was “doing”, I would look at them and wonder what they did to be loved like that and why what I was doing wasn’t enough, why I wasn’t enough. I felt like something was inherently wrong with me deep down. I was jealous that these women could be so loved without the performance. The more unloved I felt, and the more my husband sought other things than me, the more I felt the need to control our situations. I’m still not perfect in this. There were so many years of dishonesty, I’ve developed some ugly habits. But the more love God has shown me, the more freeing I’ve become, and the more God has been able to work in my husband’s heart. My husband has told me that the times he’s sought other people and things, it wasn’t because of a lack on my part, but a dissatisfaction he had with God. The more he’s satisfied with God, the easier it is to turn away from any temptation, and the love God has given him for me and really for and through both of us as I hardened my heart a lot during that time has been better than we’ve ever experienced. It’s a beautiful thing that could only come from God’s unconditional love and grace! (We’re definitely not perfect in this though!)
Too often I’ve seen that we as Christians seem afraid of speaking of God’s unconditional love and grace. We may speak of it to people who haven’t heard of Christ, but it’s almost as though once someone receives salvation, we expect performance or if people who have known God’s love screw up, we immediately condemn them and forget that God’s a God of second chances and thirds and fourths and nothing can separate us from His love!
I often wonder if we speak so much about performance because it seems easier to love others if they’re doing what we want or if we ourselves have forgotten the wonder of His love for us. We put sin on such a pedestal and act terrified of it and speak about the Bible as though it’s a book of rules we need to follow without getting to the heart of it. We expect people who don’t know God’s love to perform as though they do and act as though the good news is about looking perfect and following the rules. Yet, God says that LOVE is the fulfillment of the law and whether we can speak with the tongues of men and of angels but have not love, we’ve become nothing but sounding brass or clanging cymbals. And though we have the gifts of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though we have all faith, so that we could remove mountains, but have not love, we are nothing. And though we bestow all our goods to feed the poor, and though we give our bodies to be burned, but have not love, it profits us nothing!
I love how David says in Psalm 119:32:
“I will run the course of Your commandments, For You shall enlarge my heart.”
God enlarging our hearts with His love is the only way to fulfill the law. Walking in the faith of His love for us and our pursuit of Him is the only way to please Him! You can be the best preacher and have the most appealing arguments until you’re blue in the face, but only God’s goodness will lead people to repentance!
God humbled Himself and came in the form of a man and brought Himself to our level to show us His love for us and defeated Satan and all powers of darkness through that love and that is our greatest weapon because love conquers all and never fails! When are we going to take up His weapon of choice and fight all manner of darkness? When are we going to love the least of these? When are we going to remember the depths of our sin and remember the wonder of His love for us and show that same level of compassion and grace and love to those around us? When are we going to soften our hearts enough to love as Jesus did?