“We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19 NIV)
This season is a good time to remember that the reason God wants us to love is because he is love, and he created us to be like him — to love. The only reason we’re able to love is because God loves us: “Love comes from God … because God is love” (1 John 4:7-8 NIV).
We were created in God’s image to do two things on Earth: Learn to love God and learn to love other people. Life is all about love.
But love all started with God. He loved us first, and that gives us the ability to love others (1 John 4:19). The only reason you can love God or love anybody else is because God first loved you. And he showed that love by sending Jesus Christ to Earth to die for you. He showed that love by creating you. He showed that love by everything you have in life; it’s all a gift of God’s love.
In order to love others and to become great lovers, we first need to understand and feel how much God loves us. We don’t want to just talk about love, read about love, or discuss love; our need is to experience the love of God.
We need to reach a day when we finally, fully understand how God loves us completely and unconditionally. We need to become secure in the truth that we cannot make God stop loving us.
Once we’re secure inside God’s unconditional love, we’ll start cutting people a lot of slack. We won’t be as angry as we’ve been. We’ll be more patient. We’ll be more forgiving. We’ll be more merciful. We’ll give others grace.
But you cannot give to others what you have not received yourself, and so my hope is that, as you learn how much God loves you, you’ll also let him heal your heart so that his love can flow freely through you. It’s impossible to love others until you really feel loved yourself.
Talk About It
When you feel “empty” and not able to give or show love to others, how do you think God wants you to “refuel”?
Take time today to make sure your heart is right with the Lord, that you have received his grace, forgiveness, and love so that you can show it to other people.
Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller "The Purpose Driven Life." His book, "The Purpose Driven Church," was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also the founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.
This devotional ©2012 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.