But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
God demonstrates His love toward us. That’s a direction I like. He surrounds us. He fills us. And He demonstrates love toward us. Demonstrate is an active verb. God doesn’t just push love our way. He lives it out the way He wants us to live it out. He shows us.
When we love someone, we need to show them. And it’s not just because we want them to receive love. Like God, we want them to be able to live it out. God’s love lasts and impacts lives in ways we can never see or expect. His love keeps going, and it leaves a trail that leads right back to Him. We are a part of that trail of love.
Demonstrating love toward someone reminds me of parenting. Loving our children is easy when we define it as the deep-seated commitment to them. It pretty much comes with the territory. (I know there are cases that people struggle to love their children. In most cases, it’s because they don’t know what love is. They might be extending the love they know, but it’s not godly love.) Living that love out, demonstrating it, isn’t as easy.
First, it’s difficult to know what to do in many situations. Even when we’re trying to love with all we have, what does that really mean? When do we discipline? When do we extend grace? When do we expect immediate obedience, and when do we patiently extend mercy? Second, we feel limited. Accepting God’s love is one thing. Living it out with living, breathing people is another. When it involves our children, there’s the added pressure of being the primary caregivers and teachers for these little people who will grow and carry on the love we live out and claim is a reflection of God’s love. We don’t have unlimited patience and all-knowing insight.
But we know who does. Loving our children with God’s perfect love isn’t going to be perfect, because we’re not perfect. But the more we yield to God through the process, the more we demonstrate a full picture of what God’s love is. And it’s not just about our children. It’s about everyone around us.
We have some of the same frustrations when loving toward others. We don’t know what to do in many situations, and we feel limited and inadequate. Both are true. We don’t have all the answers, and we don’t have all the resources, but we know God, who does. He demonstrates His love toward us, and we demonstrate His love through us.
It’s not our love we need to live out loud. It’s not our patience, our understanding, our insight, our mercy, our discipline. It’s our obedience. Everything else is God’s. He provides. We run dry because we don’t rely on Him. We get frustrated and sometimes paralyzed because we don’t understand, but we don’t need to have all the understanding. In fact, we’re incapable of all understanding. That is God’s.
God’s love is personal. When we live it out loud, we must make it personal as well. Not because of our own efforts and skills, but because of God’s. We don’t need to know how to love. We need to know with whose love to love. As we live it out, He teaches us what we need to know. We learn about God, and because we know Him, we know love. He leans toward us, we receive, and we lean toward others.
Dear God, I don’t understand how I’m supposed to respond sometimes. I feel so inadequate. I feel like I fall short. I get exhausted and don’t seem to be able to respond in Your love. I try to do things in my own strength. I don’t fully receive what You have for me. I want to. I really do. Help me to get out of my own way and into Your presence. Thank You for loving toward me.