He Started It
"This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins." 1 John 4:10, NLT
This verse above is one of those verses that can change your entire Christian life! Real love isn't that we love God, but that He loves us.
What does that mean?
For many of us, we are often focused on how much WE love the Lord, our passion for God, our service for the Lord, our intensity for the things of God, our obedience to Him…and all of those things. In doing so, we forget that the emphasis isn't on us, but on Him and His love for us. The focus is on how much HE loves us, His passion for us, His service towards us, His intensity for loving us and His obedience to His loving Father.
Sometimes we sing old hymns like, “My Jesus, I Love Thee” or “I Love You Lord” and those are great songs, but actually real love ISN'T that we love God—but that He loves us! If we aren't careful, we will put the focus on US and our love, rather than on HIM and His love! Maybe we need to sing more songs like, “It’s Your Love” or “Oh the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus” or “How He Loves Us.” Let’s keep the focus on how much He loves us. He loved us then; He loves us now. In fact, the Bible tells us that God is love. (1 John 4:16)
Jesus emphasized His heart of love when He said, “…the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28, NIV) Think about that for a while! Love motivates Jesus to serve. Jesus didn't come to be served—even though that is what we often emphasize—He came to serve. Serve who? You and me! It gives Him pleasure to love us and to serve us. It’s hard to comprehend a God like that—a God that is so unselfish, generous, caring, giving and loving. But that is exactly the type of God we serve. He is rich in mercy. For God so loved… He did and He still does.
The apostle John, who called himself “the disciple that Jesus loves” wrote this, “We love because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19, NIV) Again, the emphasis is on the fact that He first loved us—therefore, we respond and love Him back. He is the initiator and we are the responders. He chose us, before we chose Him. Think about it, He loved us at our most unlovely point. God demonstrated His love for us that when we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. If He loved us then, He loves us now.
When we know and believe the love God has for us, we can rest in His love. When we rest and receive His love, we cease from our own efforts, works, labors and unconscious attempts to somehow earn or be found worthy of His love.
Once we rest and receive His love, we are actually freed to love Him back and to give His love to others.
Maybe you need a reminder that God loves you—that He loved you first. He does. Don’t ever forget what real love is—not that we love God, but that He loves us. Today, how about we let Him do that?
Say It: “Father, it’s news that seems almost too good to be true. You are truly the God of more than enough; the God who is over the top in Your love. Thank You for showing me what real love is – not that I love You, but that You love me. Today, I receive Your love and I rest in Your love. Thank You. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”