Free to Love

When asked what love looks like, most of us would describe acts that portray kindness, gentleness, generosity, service, or sacrifice, and I doubt these answers would cause much debate.  We can easily agree that love spurs on life-giving actions, but it is oh so good to remember that the love we give is more of a reaction to the perfect love poured into us as we abide in God, as God is love. I have always been deeply encouraged by 1 John 4:7-21 and reflect on the truth of verse 19 regularly.  “We love because He first loved us.” This truth rings out loud and clear as I seek opportunities to love those around me. I receive from my Lord and, therefore, can share and spread His love.

As a mother, I long to reflect Christ as I love my children. This Christ-like love can be revealed in many ways as we mommas nurture our children. Maybe it is revealed when we experience personal heartache when our child has been teased or rejected. Maybe when we long to assure our child of our love and faithfulness when he or she feels alone and uncertain. Maybe when we simply hold our child. Maybe when we laugh and sing with our children or recount fun memories together. Maybe when we shed tears with them in hard times. Maybe when we enjoy the beauty of God’s creation as we are out exploring nature together. Maybe our love is Christ-like when we tend to them through those long nights when they are sick or even in the fact that we know our children so well that we are the first to recognize when they are getting sick. Maybe our love reveals Christ when we pray over them and with them, when we humble ourselves and confess our faults, when we stand beside them and help them fight battles of anxiety or pride or insecurity or anger, when we continue to model over and over our dependence on Jesus. Our love for our children displays Christ when we persevere in teaching them about the goodness of God, when we speak words of truth and comfort and grace into their lives, when we value them as gifts from God created with a purpose.

Loving our children as our Heavenly Father has lavishly loved us may be somewhat more natural than loving our sisters in Christ, but our Lord has clearly commanded us, His children, to love one another. I know that throughout my lifetime, I have wasted way too much time and energy getting stuck in destructive thinking as I have related to other women. Whether holding a grudge or withholding forgiveness or letting jealousy rule in my heart or letting bitterness take root. Whether getting trapped in the comparison game or judging when I do not have the right to do so…too often I have taken my focus off of what really matters and just let my flesh rule which never has a happy ending. Even striving too hard to please others or enabling them in an unhealthy manner or putting others on pedestals distracts us from living how God intends us to and disables us from loving well.

God’s Word is overflowing with lasting treasure and counsel to store up in our hearts. Ephesians 4:20-32 proclaims such wisdom regarding how we are to treat one another. This passage tells us we are to put off our old self, which may want to boast in our accomplishments or find a little satisfaction in the failures of others or hang out in the pity party palace or…you fill in the blank. We are called instead to be renewed and to put on our new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. So loving what is holy, we are able to put away falsehood, and we speak truth to one another. We do not give Satan ammunition to use as he finds ways to cause division. Our speech is seasoned with grace and encouragement. We throw away anything contrary to what brings edification to the body and glory to our Lord. By default, we are kind and tenderhearted and quick to forgive because, thanks be to God, we have been forgiven.

Whether we are mothering our children or encouraging our sisters in Christ or building up our husbands or reaching out to our neighbors or serving our co-workers or interacting with complete strangers, let us remember that it is God who sustains us and let us fill ourselves with the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:17-19). Let us rely on Him and live out His love as we relate to one another. How radical would it be if we all treated one another with such honor and uninhibited love that the perfect love of Christ Himself is proclaimed to the love-deprived world around us? Let us build one another up and strengthen each other and spur one another on with God’s truth. Let us weep with one another when the hurt is too much to bear alone and rejoice together over how grand God is. Let us cheer one another on as we walk or run or crawl on this journey of life for we have eternity before us. Let’s think, act, and live in a way that furthers Christ’s redemptive purposes in our lives…for unity and peace and for righteousness.  Let us love one another freely because He has freely loved us first.

How radical would it be if we all treated one another with such honor and uninhibited love that the perfect love of Christ Himself is proclaimed to the love-deprived world around us?

 

Laurel Faith Noble. Grateful Wife of my Favorite Person. Imperfect yet Devoted Mother to my 4 Little Loves. Lifelong Learner and Seeker of Wisdom Daily. Always in Need of My Savior. Finds Joy in the Small Things. Humbled and Happy Child of God.