Love One Another 4

1 John 3:16-18

Members of our church have family in Mexico, and last year we sent used clothing down to be given out to needy people. We got a report back that a young man in Mexico was thrilled to receive a pair of jeans that we had determined to be too ratty and torn for our son. It is amazing how much of the material possessions, the abundance of food and space for living, the comforts of our life we take for granted.

We do not need to go far to find others who would benefit from our excess. They can be blessed by our gifts with very little sacrifice on our part. Yet we so often overlook the opportunity to show love by providing for others.

In this letter from John we see examples of how to live out our love. What did Jesus do as an example for us? How can the love of God be in us? What is the final instruction offered?

As always we can turn to Christ to see how we are to live and love. Jesus sacrificed his very life so that we might be blessed, so that we might receive forgiveness and the fullness of God’s mercy. It was an act of love.

We are commanded to love. Are we to lay down our life for others? I believe the answer is that we should, if necessary. And if we do not lay down our life, we can give our life by being in constant service to others in need. We may not have to physically die to show love, but love can be expressed by putting our own wants and comforts aside, even if only for a little while, so that others may benefit. Love can be shown by giving away our excess without hesitation or complaint.

How can we look on the poor and needy and then turn away? That same question haunted me during our mission trip to Haiti. When I witnessed the abject poverty of the people, especially the children, I asked myself how it could be possible for me to walk away.

We are urged to love, not just with words, but with actions. Wherever and whenever possible we should, as Christians, do whatever we can to help those in need. That is how the love of God lives in us. That is how we love one another.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can the love of God in you be expressed through acts of love?

Love One Another 3

Ephesians 5:1-2

I usually find it difficult to think of an appropriate gift for people, especially my wife. But a few years back it was easy. I went to a bath and body store and purchased scented soaps, shampoos, colognes and lotions as gifts. They were an expression of love intended to make my wife feel good. My hope was that when she enjoyed these wonderful scents she would be reminded of the love I have for her.

In the letter to the Ephesians we have very simple instructions on what we are to do. What two things are we commanded to do? What has Jesus done?

The instructions are simple but following them may be very difficult. We are to imitate God.

How do we imitate God? We can’t create a rainbow or still the winds. We can’t create a mountain or calm a storm. But we can love other people. That is what God does. God loves us deeply, and in His love He provides for our needs and wants.

We are to imitate God by living a life of love. Our love should not be expressed on occasion or when it is convenient. Our love should not be expressed when it makes us look good or only when it is easy to do. Love should be lived out through our entire life, at all times.

We are to imitate God by loving others, without condition, and by providing for them. Our love needs to be expressed by more than just words. We need to include actions as well.

That is what Jesus did. He lived out his love by offering himself completely as a sacrifice. He gave his life so that we might inherit eternal life. And such a sacrifice, such an action was an offering to God. It wasn’t the smoke and odor of a burnt offering that the ancient Hebrews practiced, but it was a pleasant and fragrant offering, something that made God happy.

In the same way we should be imitators of Jesus. We should sacrifice for others. We should be willing to give ourselves completely in an expression of love to others. And such actions, such expressions of love will be fragrant and pleasant offerings to God also, making Him very happy.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you imitate God today?

Love One Another 2

Romans 12:9-13

When I think about my friends, those people I get along with the best, I recognize a very similar behavior pattern in them all. They all value me and are willing to put me above themselves in their attitudes. They worry about my comfort when I visit; they are interested in my life when we talk.

This sounds so self-centered for me, but what we have are people who are showing genuine love and I happen to be one of those people fortunate enough to receive it. I hope they see the same attitudes in me.

In his letter to the Romans Paul gives instruction on expressing love to one another. What are all the attributes of loving one another? Verse 11 seems to address an attitude. What should our attitude be?

If we are going to claim to be Christians and part of the body of Christ, then we need to be able to love one another. And that affection we have must be real. It cannot be contrived, false, or insincere. As Paul says, “love must be sincere.”

That is the beginning. Now what? How do we express sincere love?

We do it by being devoted to one another, committed to supporting each other – such as accepting, teaching, forgiving one another. We do it by honoring one another, by not lording ourselves over the other and being willing to be teachable. We can share with each other and be hospitable, being willing to have fellowship with one another.

And we need to keep a Christian attitude. We should hate what is evil and focus on what is good. We should always have that spiritual fervor, that energy to share God’s love with others. We should serve the Lord with hope, patience and faithfulness, bringing joy to one another through the love we share.

DAILY CHALLENGE: Using these verse as a checklist, how many of these attributes and attitudes do you possess? How can you develop those you lack?

Love One Another 1

Due to the President's Day holiday, this week will only have four devotions.

John 13:34-35

One of the images near the end of the movie “Forrest Gump” is that of Forrest’s son sitting and watching television with his head tilted in the same way Forrest tilted his head. It was an image to let the audience know that the child did indeed belong to Forrest. The boy was a living example of the father.

Our behavior and our attitudes, our way of talking and walking, our way of working, can all be indications of who we are and who we came from. And this concept goes beyond our inherited traits and behaviors. It applies to our faith also.

In this passage Jesus gives instruction to his disciples. What is the new command? What will obedience to this command show others?

Jesus has gathered with his disciples to take part in that intimate meal we now know as the Last Supper. This was his last hours with those who were followers, those whom he loved. This was his last opportunity to teach his disciples. And in this opportunity he imparts a new lesson.

The disciples were told to love one another. And how should they love one another? In the same way, behaving in the same manner, as Jesus did. That meant they should love one another completely, and they should be willing to sacrifice for one another. Their love for one another should be a love that accepts, desires fellowship, teaches and forgives.

And I believe his instructions were not just for the disciples, but were meant to all who believe in Christ. We must love one another. And we must be evident in our love for one another. The love we should have for one another in the body of Christ should be a love that lives out what it means to be Christian. Our love should be a visible and concrete example of who Jesus is.

By loving one another as Jesus was able to love we are serving as witnesses and teachers in the faith. As Jesus pointed out, “all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

DAILY CHALLENGE: How will people know you are a disciple of Christ?