Love of God

2013.05.22

“God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”

(Romans 5:5)

Reflection:

John has chosen one word that best describes God, and that word is love.

“God is love.” (1 John 4:16)

 This love has been both described and proved to us.

  •  “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
  • “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

 It is no wonder then that the great commandments which He has given to us, and to which Jesus added, all include the word love. And, because God does not ask of us more than He gives Himself, they tell us a great deal about God and His love for us at the same time.

  • “Jesus replied: “`Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.
  • “And the second is like it: `Love your neighbour as yourself.’” (Matthew 22:37-39)
  • “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” (John 15:12)
  • “But I tell you: Love your enemies” (Matthew 5:44)

 Paul would go on to teach us that anything that we do that is not based on, and done in, love will have no value in God’s eyes. Without it, he says, we are only a noise, and are and gain nothing.

 However, although this love has been described and revealed to us it does not necessarily enable us to receive it personally, to respond in love or to live out the commands to love. Our own understanding and experience of love can be very limited, and the self-centred attitudes and actions of the world do not help. If the truth be told we are surrounded by people longing and silently crying out to be loved. And how are we to truly love unless we first have received and experienced love!

“We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)

 And so God by His grace has given to us the Holy Spirit – and one of the significant ministries of the Spirit is this,

 “God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”

 The understanding of the tense is that it is not merely a once-off gift but that ‘the initial outpouring remains a permanent flood.’ The love referred to here is God’s love for us. This the Spirit seeks to pour continuously into our hearts so that we may experience and know, in an ongoing and ever-deepening way, the truth of the love that God has for us. So Paul prays out of His own experience,

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:16-19)

 Out of the healing, cleansing, transforming and live-giving power of God’s love we are enabled to respond in love – firstly towards Him and then towards ourselves and others. Loving with the love of God becomes less and less of obedience to a command and increasingly an expression of who we have, and are continuing to, become. The starting point is to believe in and receive God’s love.

Response:

God wants us to receive and know His love. So pray for His help, expect it and sit quietly before it. Look at its expression on the cross personally for yourself.

Prayer:

Thank You Father for Your great love revealed in Jesus Christ. Please pour that love into my heart. Help me to open myself to Your Spirit, and to receive, recognise and respond to Your love. Amen.

 —————

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