What if our salvation was dependent on how well we loved others today? Ouch.
The absolute BEST thing we can do for others in our life is work on ourselves. And before I can even get in deep in a blog post about love, I must state the truth about where love begins.
“To love another person is to see the face of God.” (Victor Hugo)
When I was in middle school, the youth director at our small church led a bible study for a group of us. We weren’t even old enough to actually BE in the youth group, but God gave her vision for our lives. Why did she do this? Simple. She loved well. I can think of 100 other things I would have wanted to do at her age. Well, I can actually think of 100 other things I did when I was at the age of her bible study leading days. (gasp sigh) She’s one of the first people (besides my parents) that demonstrated God’s true, unconditional love to me. She is a huge part of who I am today. She showed me the face of God. She didn’t point her finger at any of us. She didn’t tell us we were going to hell if we _____ (fill in the blank). She came to our world. She figured out what we were interested in and she got interested.
There was relationship. We were created for relationships. To do life with others is to see the face of God! She was one of the first people besides my family to “get interested” in my life….to hold me accountable….to show me grace….to show me forgiveness. I want to love people this way. I want to show them the face of God.
Here’s the thing. I didn’t start believing in Jesus because she showed me all the things I mentioned above. But, it was because of her love that I never stopped believing in Him when havoc wreaked from religious people since then.
“Jesus lets us be real with our faith….What Jesus said we could do is leave typical behind. We could leave all of the comparisons and all of the trappings and all of the pretending of religion. Jesus told the people He was with that it’s not enough to just look like you love God. He said we’d know the extent of our love for God by how well we loved people.” (Bob Goff, Love Does)
I want to leave typical behind.
I want to spend time with the kinds of people that most people try to avoid.
I want to finish well, but most of all I want to love well.
And I must love well to finish well.
Love begins in a relationship with the one who’s agape love transcends all understanding. We can speak in the tongues of men…writing blog post after blog post, but if we don’t have love we are just a clanging cymbal. We can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge…quoting author after author….we can have faith so big that it moves mountains, but not have love. We could give all we possess to the poor, but not have love. And without love, we gain nothing.
The knowledge will pass away. When completeness comes, what is in part disappears. Then information will cease. Our tongues will be still. But love….Love. Never. Fails.
Earlier I said the best thing we could for others in our life is work on ourselves. I firmly believe that we can’t love well until we grasp His love for us. We can’t even begin to grasp that until we see ourselves the way He sees us. And to see ourselves the way He sees us, we must give ourselves a break. Which brings me to the question why are we so hard on ourselves anyway? My theory is that we’re seeking approval from someone other than Him. We’re hurt, offended, people pleasing control freaks. Good news! God gave us the gift of grace and forgiveness. What would the world look like if we gave ourselves the same grace and forgiveness we give other mothers? If we exercised the amazing gift of forgiveness for the people who have hurt or offended us? We stopped believing the lie that they are burning when we’re the ones on fire? If we let. it. go. All of it. Handed it over to Him and laid ALL our expectations at the cross. Ah, I think we might experience love for ourselves, thus experiencing God’s love a little deeper and a little deeper. Oh, and then we might even see ourselves the way He sees us! And just maybe we we’d feel His love so deep and so wide and so tall and so true that we’d love others well. So well that others may feel the love of God the first time because of us! Because of YOU! And it may inspire them to work on themselves because they want what YOU have. They will love because you first loved them. You’ll show them the face of God because He first loved you.