Every February, Valentine’s Day urges me to focus on expressing love to those around me. This year I’m looking at how God has demonstrated His love to me, to see how I might follow His example.
Being a parent helps to understand better how God would love us first. From the time of the “I’m pregnant” announcement to holding my baby in my arms, love begins, sight unseen. Out of that love hopefully my children come to love me, too, but as a parent it’s up to me to be the first to demonstrate it to them.
I’m given the ability to love because as 1 John 4:19 states, God first loved me. And in everyday life there are plenty of opportunities to put this into action in my home, community, church, and work.
It’s happened a few times in various settings where without even knowing me, someone has decided they just don’t like me. In these instances, I’ve had to choose to overlook their attitudes and love them first. Thankfully, love often wins them over but it’s certainly no fun to be in that situation, although it does give me just a minuscule glimpse of what God has been dealing with in countless individuals through the ages.
Love the Messy
A wonderful passage in Romans 5:8 tells me how God demonstrated His own love towards me in that while I was yet a sinner, Christ died for me. So again, parenting helps me to better understand God’s example of how to love others immersed in various messy life situations.
One morning my husband and I awoke to find our creative baby had made a new discovery in her diaper and finger painted all over herself, crib, and walls. It was a very unpleasant sight to see and smell, and even more fun to clean up. Still, we didn’t stop loving her because of it. And it also caused our hearts to love her even more, seeing how she was in this stinky situation and needed us to pick her up and clean the mess off of her.
My daughters and I enjoy watching various wedding shows and notice that often in the interview with the prospective bride or groom, one will say how they fell in love because of how the other person makes them feel. Hearing this I wonder, what will happen if/when this spouse stops making the other one feel this way?
Being married for a few years, I’ve come to realize that love really isn’t about how my husband, family, and friends make me feel but rather what cost I’m willing to pay to show my love? And I willing to give up my pride, selfishness, resources, own plans, wants, and more?
One of my favorite childhood verses, John 3:16, describes the cost God was willing to pay to demonstrate His love, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…” His love came at the ultimate cost.
For a holiday devoted to love, it makes sense for me to turn to the One who 1 John 4:8 declares “is love.” As the Author, Creator, and only Source of love, God has set the utmost example of what it means to express it to those around me by loving first, those covered in the messiness of sin, and sacrificially.