“ Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NLT)
Since childhood or even in our teenage years, knowingly or unknowingly, we fought with our siblings to get the most attention and love from our parents! In contrast, we never felt obligated to show love to others! We may have loved many people, but was it for a return of favor, peer pressure, the beauty or greatness of a person, or their high-ranking social status?! In other words, "love," in most cases, is for anything that brings comfort, makes us feel good, something enjoyable, or profitable. Therefore, when those we love ignore us, we stop loving them! This kind of love is human love.
Human love entirely depends on the actions and reactions of others. We may take the first step to love someone, but if we don’t; get the same level of love in return, we treat them differently and stop loving them. But divine love is different. It originates from within us regardless of the recipient's condition! It's a decision we make to care for and love someone. True love is not returning a favor; it is a sacrifice that may take part of our time, money, or comfort.
Why do so many relationships, even the ones that started with a hot love, grow cold and diminish? We may wonder if a horrible incident led to depuration and isolation. But when we look closely and observe the realities, we realize that the misery and suffering of families is due to the lack of divine love. In contrast, Families experiencing divine love, even when they go through harsh circumstances, hold tight to each other!
We have experienced a level of human love during our upbringing. And naturally, when we hear about love, we automatically remember what we experienced. But, unfortunately, that doesn’t help us understand divine love. Yet, knowingly or unknowingly, willingly or unwillingly, we search for it. So, what is this divine love that gives meaning and brings stability into our lives?
When Jesus asked Peter the third time, "Do you love me?" Peter was disturbed. He had tasted divine and sacrificial love. He loved Jesus more than anyone, but did he love Jesus the same way?
Jesus died for us not because we were doing something good, but while we were still sinners; he loved us divinely to go on the cross as an ultimate sacrifice and pay for our penalties:
“But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” Romans 5:8 (NLT)
Our experience with divine love begins when God forgives our sins and grants us eternal life. And it intensifies as the Holy Spirit works in our hearts to transform us into the likeness of Jesus Christ. As we keep loving people, divine love intensifies in us. And though donating money, helping others financially, and even suffering for our faith are noble acts, nothing compares to genuine love. We have missed the point if we can't love people around us!
“If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (NLT)
We may see the sad faces in the street passing by, but we don't bother much because we don't know them. However, if one of our friends is low, we stop, empathize and try to comfort them. Loving people isn’t necessarily a feeling or affection but an action base on a solid decision. When a family member suffers, we run to help; when the problem is resolved, we take a deep breath. Likewise, our Creator's ultimate desire is to see that we care for each other as members of a loving family
“When one member suffers, all the members suffer with it. When one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.” 1 Corinthians 12:26
We may wonder how God loves good and bad people. It might be easy to love those who are respectful to us, but it is a challenge to show love to unloving people. Because what we have is human love! However, divine love keeps pouring into our lives through the work of the Holy Spirit; we can love anyone, including our enemies.
The Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37 didn't care if the wounded man was a friend or an enemy. He served anyone God put in his way because divine love poured out of his heart. So likewise, if we love our immature Christian brothers and sisters, one day, they will grow strong, and we will be proud of them. And when we pray a blessing on our enemies, we will rejoice one day, seeing them believed in our Lord!
So if God is so loving, why does he punish people and send them to hell?! Interestingly, many people have the same question, but most don’t want to know the answer since they look for excuses to mock God.
Love and holiness distinctly define God. Nothing unholy may endure in his presence. There is righteousness in his holiness that won’t let any sin go unpunished. Even as sinful humans, we admit that an oppressor should be punished. Therefore we make laws in every society to prevent injustice and punish oppressors.
On the other hand, God’s love doesn’t want anyone to remain under judgment. So he took human flesh and came to our world to pay for our penalties personally. Now we can choose freely. God is extremely patient with us, giving us time to decide. He has given us a mind that understands logic and has provided enough proof to trust him (John 2o:30-31). God expects every fruit-bearing tree to bring fruit (Matthew 7:19 and Luke 13:6-9). Even though we produce bitter fruit, he provides a second chance to let him change our hearts. God is not rushing to judgment but waiting to see everyone saved.
“The Lord is not slow concerning his promise, as some count slowness; but he is patient with us, not wishing that anyone should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9
Now we have a choice, and our choices have eternal consequences. If we admit that we are sinners and ask for forgiveness by trusting in Jesus and the power of his blood, we will be saved from eternal judgment. But if we choose to reject his provided salvation, rely on our seemingly good deeds, and continue our sinful lives as described in Galatians 5:19-21, that will lead us to hell. Blessed are those who accept God’s friendship and have a life filled with divine love! So now that we have received undeserved grace and love, let us remember the words of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ:
“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” John 13:34-35 (NLT)
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