The Manner of His Love
1 John 3:1
At age six, the first day of school is a scary proposition. Walking through the routines with mom the week before school starts—finding the bathrooms, meeting the teacher, learning where to stand for the carpool queue—is totally different than the real thing. Many a parent has ended up walking their child into school on the first day after seeing him or her freeze with fear at the curb. Love for a six year-old allows that.
But what about when that first-grader becomes a freshman in college? Not a few tears of apprehension and pain have dampened the cheeks of parents as they drive off campus, leaving their child to solve the maze of college or university life. But love for an 18 year-old demands that they drive away. Same parent, same child, same love—but now that love requires a different manifestation. It would be totally inappropriate for a parent to park the car and walk through the first week of college with a child. As painful as it is for parents, children have to be allowed to find their own way.
In this case, a parent’s love is like God’s love for his own children. Sometimes he comes directly to our rescue, but sometimes he allows us to find our own way. That is the manner of his love. The apostle John’s words are rendered “how great” by most modern Bible versions—and indeed, God’s love is great. But a more literal rendering is “what manner of love” the Father bestows on us. That is, the Father’s love is of a certain kind. When we’re first-graders in our faith, his love is one way. But when we approach (or should be approaching) maturity in our faith, his love may come differently. Same Father, same child, same love—but expressed in ways that best meet our needs as his children.
The next time you wish God would come to your rescue and take you by the hand, remember: His love for you hasn't changed. If you don’t see it expressed in the way you expected, look for it in another. However his love appears, you can be sure it is exactly what you need at that moment.
God’s Promise to You: “I love you in different ways for different reasons, but I always love you.”