Affirmation of Love

pureloveblogWherefore I urge you to reaffirm your love for Him. For to this end also I wrote, so that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things. (2 Corinthians 2:8-9)

How can we reaffirm our love for God?

God wants us to know that He loves us with a love distinctively higher than ours. It’s sovereign, steadfast, and selective. To reaffirm our love for God, we accept His love, which includes knowing His love by knowing His character.

God is sovereign. He is above and over all things. We can wrestle with God in the details of our lives. We like the idea that He’s sovereign. We need God to be bigger than us, because if He’s not, He can’t really help us. Yet we also want God to be small enough that we can understand Him. We want explanations. We want to be able to fill in the blanks as we have questions. But we can’t have a god who is small enough to understand and big enough to provide for and guide us. A small god cannot rule. A big god cannot be completely explained.

God is God, whether we accept Him in His fullness or not. What we want isn’t thrown into a vat to produce something in our own image. We are created in God’s image, not the opposite. It’s like putting a penny in a souvenir press-a-penny machines. We take what we have, put it in the machine, pay with some additional coins, choose the design we like the most, then crank the penny through to receive the end product we wanted. We got something we wanted that we can hold in our hands and keep, and we even got to put in the effort of cranking the handle and being a part of the “making” process. We sacrifice a little—a penny we can never use again and a couple other coins. But we didn’t create the penny in the first place. We’re working with raw materials that we can’t personally produce. And we’re using a machine we didn’t personally produce. Plus, our choices are limited.

Taking what we know and making a god from it is starting with raw materials we didn’t even create, so how can we possibly have enough knowledge and creativity to make something beyond us? We might not be comfortable with everything about God. We certainly don’t understand everything about Him. But He is sovereign, and we can’t change it, nor do I think we really want to. We can wrestle with our pain and discontentedness of where we are, where we’ve been, what we have, and what we can see in front of us. But the pain and discontentedness doesn’t go away by wishing it away, making excuses or reaching for explanations of why it happened, or projecting our limited view onto a limitless God. As we reaffirm our love for God, we are healed.

Affirming our love for God is about obedience. It’s saying, “No matter what is going on in my life, Lord, you are Lord of my life.” It’s seeing God as He is, at least, as well as we can see Him as He reveals Himself to us. He wants us to know Him well, so He doesn’t hide as we seek. What remains hidden is limited to what we can’t understand. But there is a lot more about Him—and His love—that He wants us to personally experience. He will affirm His love to you. Affirm it with Him.

 

Dear God, I praise You for who You are. I am sorry for trying to make You into my image at times. It seems so foolish, yet when I need to understand something, I will accept an explanation without really wrestling with You to get to the accurate answer of who You are. Help me to accept Your sovereignty and live it out on a daily basis, trusting and seeking You in all things, big and small. You are a big God, and I am so thankful.

Tears of Love

pureloveblogFor out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you with many tears; not so that you would be made sorrowful, but that you might know the love which I have especially for you. (1 Corinthians 2:4)

All tears are not created equally. We can be taught to wipe away our tears, let them freely flow, produce them on demand, or refuse to let them even exist. The truth is tears are necessary and very appropriate to express ourselves and God. It doesn’t mean every time our tears fall is a reflection of God, but when we weep because of who God is and how and what He’s provided in our lives, we certainly need to welcome them.

God’s love is passionate. He pursues with intensity. It’s not just that He feels love toward us. He lives love toward us. His love is active and alive. It is intentional and productive.

And everything God’s love is for us is also for us to love others. We don’t have to feel love for people to respond in love to them. We can share God’s love with a stranger. As we yield to God, and as we know how He is, His heart for us eclipses our heart for the world. Anything or anyone we love filters through His love. If it is worthy and in His will and time, He keeps it within us and equips us to respond. If it’s not, as we yield, He hides it from us or weeds it from our lives altogether. We don’t decide how to share God’s love with strangers or acquaintances. God instructs us. He prompts us with His Holy Spirit. He challenges us through His Word. We will see someone and sometimes respond immediately in assurance . Other times we will walk away and wrestle with God until He provides the answer. Sometimes He’ll tell us to walk away. And many other times, we don’t even notice the opportunity, because we’re not receiving the fullness of God’s love due to our attitude or heartitude.

We can also fail to share God’s love with the people we say we love the most. We get frustrated because relationships don’t go the way we want. The other person doesn’t hold up his end of the bargain. But are we? Are we living God’s love out loud in a way that changes us—not expecting someone else to change as a condition but trusting God to change the way we think, respond, and believe. We can also take relationships for granted. We know it’s not going to go away. There’s a commitment or a bond that creates a foundation that will never completely shatter regardless of what we pile on top of it. But what if we leave out God’s love? If He’s not a bold part of the relationship, starting with our own lives, we need to check the security of our assurance.

When we consider how tears and love are associated, most of us probably think of how we cry over love not with love. Crying over love when relationships have broken, betrayed, or perhaps not even started, is sorrow. It’s not the kind of tears characterized in this verse. Tears of love are passionate and pursuant. They include everything that God wants for you with His love. They are merciful, forgiving, trustworthy, full of peace, comfort, and conviction. Because that is who God is.

 

Dear God, thank You for tears, that I can celebrate Your love. I know that sometimes the tears of love I cry seem sorrowful, because I’m mourning the loss of life and connection. But through these words, I understand my tears are tears of love. When I love someone You have woven into my life, the separation hurts. I long for the person because he or she reflects the love that You have given me in my life. Help me not to use the love and the tears You have given me to be selfish. I want to pursue Your presence and Your love with such passion that I am constantly stepping out of my own will and into Yours. Open my heart to love as You love, and open my eyes to see as You see and weep for what You weep.

Love All

pureloveblogLet all that you do be done in love. (1 Corinthians 16:14)

We must reject what is against God’s will. He commands us to love one another. “Love the sinner, hate the sin” is a common phrase to describe how we’re to respond to people who are engaging in behavior contrary to God’s will. Most Christians have struggled with how to live this out in specific circumstances. It’s perhaps one of the most commonly asked questions: “How can I love the person without giving her the impression that I approve of what she’s doing?” You can’t do it with your own strength and love. God’s love is unconditional, but it’s also corrective. God loves you even though you don’t live every moment of your life exactly the way He wants you to live. Even when you’re seeking His will and intending to live every moment for Him, you’re going to make some poor judgments. You’re human. But God still loves you.

He also loves the person beside you. You might not know how to share your love, but you can share God’s love, because God says she’s worthy. You don’t have to have every detail of the relationship figured out. You simply must follow God’s lead. That means staying invested in the relationship as long as God leads you to stay invested—and not a moment longer or shorter. People are in our lives for seasons, so you will often have limited impact on people. Following God’s lead means you’ll speak up in some situations and be silent in others. It’s how God leads. You have to be content that you don’t have the answers—God does. He knows how to express His love much better than you do. When you respond out of what makes sense to you instead of what God is directing you to do, you run the risk of not only rejecting the person or sending the wrong message but also of rejecting God yourself. When you ignore His lead, you’re putting others and yourself in front of your relationship with Him. And that’s certainly not ever His will.

Dear God, I want to do all things with Your love. I want nothing in my life to contradict the will of Your love. I praise You for Your completeness. I am in awe of who You are and how You provide for me and reveal Yourself to me. I cannot fully express my gratitude, yet I will continue to seek You and respond in obedience. Thank You for giving Me Your peace, joy, mercy, compassion, and correction.

Love is the Greatest

pureloveblogBut now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13)

Faith, hope, and love. Why is love the greatest of the three? It restores. It’s active. It is relationship. God sets it apart because it so completely demonstrates His character. We will abide in all three—faith, hope, and love. We don’t have to choose among them. They don’t contradict each other. They work together. They complement each other. It’s as if they are three cords woven together…but love is the cord that is set apart among them, part of them but superior at the same time.

God creates us for relationship, and love is central to our relationship with God as well as to each other. God responded with love for us. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. (John 3:16-17)

God actively and unconditionally loves us and made a way—through love—to be reconciled to Him. When love is primary, we have faith because of God’s love for us. Love is the foundation of our faith. And faith gives us hope.

God’s love is amazing. We don’t deserve His love. We can’t earn His love. Yet we receive it anyway. Love is a fruit of faith and shows our authenticity of faith, which equips us to serve. Love is now as well as in the future. It looks outward toward others. It includes self-sacrifice for God. Love is extensive. It is God’s. And He gives it to us.

 

Dear God, thank You for Your love. And Your faith and hope. You are amazing in Your love. I cannot fathom the full reach of Your love, but I know You intend to give it to me abundantly with the intention for Me to live it out. I trust You to use me. I yield myself to You. I love you, and I praise You for Your love, faith, and hope.

Unfailing Love

pureloveblogLove never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:8)

Jesus provides a powerful example of unfailing love. He didn’t give up on His followers even when they didn’t understand or didn’t follow well.

From there they went out and began to go through Galilee, and He did not want anyone to know about it. For He was teaching His disciples and telling them, “The Son of Man is to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him; and when He has been killed, He will rise three days later.” But they did not understand this statement, and they were afraid to ask Him. (Mark 9:30-32)

Jesus had told His followers what would happen to Him, but they didn’t seem to comprehend it. Much of His teaching was beyond their grasp. Jesus’ teaching wasn’t always simple, which could prompt some followers to give up and turn away. But Jesus kept teaching. He never gave up, because He is dependable. He never fails us.

Even when you don’t understand or follow well, Jesus doesn’t give up on you. Jesus patiently endures your growth process. Jesus gets frustrated with spiritual dullness and lack of faith, but He doesn’t give up on people, because He loves people. God’s love is unending and unconditional. We don’t give up on the people we love. Jesus gives up on no one.

Jesus shows His unfailing love even when He’s suffering an excruciating death on the cross: Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34) Even as people betrayed and murdered Him, Jesus didn’t give up on the people He came to save. He recognized lack of and limited understanding. Jesus knows how spiritually inept we are, yet He is patient. Jesus’ love is unfailing. Be honest with yourself. Then trust Jesus to meet you where you are and provide everything you need.

For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold [a]into bondage to sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin. (Romans 7:14-25)

 

Dear God, I am committed to Your unfailing love. I have experienced it, and I want to abide in it. I want to live it out with others. Thank You for Your perfect example of unfailing love in Jesus. His life gives me encouragement. I will continue to seek Your presence and strive to honor You in everything I do. It’s not easy to express unfailing love, and I especially can’t come close in my own strength. But I can in Your strength and provision. I will fully rely on and trust You.

Love in All Things

pureloveblog(Love) bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Corinthians 13:7)

If you love with God’s love, you will bear, believe, hope, and endure all things. God’s love is limitless. That doesn’t mean that God approves of all things. God is just, so it’s not possible for Him to approve of all things.

Love bears all things. To bear something is to protect it. Love protects all things of God. It’s territorial, building a hedge around anything godly and cultivating it so that it grows. And anything that is outside the hedge is protected as well—protected against.

Love believes all things. Love isn’t naïve. It doesn’t absorb all things into the person who loves. It simply believes all things of God. The love that believes all things has faith and trust. When I believe all things of God, I have faith. As long as I protect and maintain that faith, I reflect God’s love, and I am faithful. When I falter in my belief and trust in God, my faithfulness wavers. Nothing about God changes. My faltering is my faltering; it impacts my faithfulness, not God’s.

Faith isn’t static. It’s not something we simply adopt, automatically have, or attain and stop. We don’t intellectually ascend into accepting the idea of God’s love or Jesus’ sacrifice. It’s a journey. It’s about living consistently and faithfully in a way that honors God. As we love God, we choose to believe all things of Him instead of believing some small things that releases us from our responsibility to honor all the other things.

God hopes all things. Biblical hope is an anticipation of good things. Hope isn’t wishful thinking. It’s the anticipation of the fulfillment of God’s promises. Many of our godly hopes are realized throughout our lives. All of our godly hopes will be realized at some point, because God breaks no promises. He always comes through.

Love endures all things. To endure is to deal with, undergo a hardship without giving in, or regard with acceptance or tolerance. God’s love endures all things of God. Enduring isn’t a blanket approval. It’s always consistent with God’s will. It’s a commitment, and commitment is always reflective of God’s love and God Himself. He is the promise keeper. He makes and keeps covenants. He endures. He pursues. He abides.

God bears, hopes, believes, and endures all things that are godly. Living His love out loud in our lives does the same. Everything we know about God’s love is consistent. Nothing contradicts God’s love or God Himself. He is love. He loves.

 

Dear God, I am committing to bear, hope, believe, and endure all things as You do. I won’t rely on my own understanding. I won’t set limits except the limits You set. I won’t hesitate to follow You and boldly love. You are my model. You are who I strive for. And I know You provide guidance, conviction, and encouragement every step of the way. Thank You.

Truthful Love

pureloveblog(Love) does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth. (1 Corinthians 13:6)

If you love with God’s love, you will rejoice with the truth. Love doesn’t thrill in wrongdoing or iniquity but in truth. This verse pits two things against each other. Doing so leaves no room for question. The statement firmly says one thing is worthy of rejoicing and one is not.

Anything that is unrighteous is wrong according to God’s perspective. It’s what’s counter to God’s will in morality,  characteristic, behavior, or attitude. And this isn’t just a personal issue; it’s a community and kingdom issue. God’s love doesn’t delight in the downfall of anyone. Any fall from righteousness, any step outside of God’s will, either willful or by neglect, is not to be revered or celebrated. Some people are only happy at the misery of others, and that’s unrighteousness. It’s not possible to show God’s love while being unloving. Love doesn’t gossip, rejoice in others’ downfalls or failures, or discourage others. Unrighteousness divides. Truth unites.

Let’s dig a little deeper. To portray God’s love, we can’t delight in unrighteousness or wrongdoing. How do we respond when someone does something corrupt or immoral, especially when it’s someone we really don’t like all that much—a sports figure, politician, or celebrity? How quickly will we attack the person, calling them out, ridiculing them, or exposing them?

God’s love isn’t focused on or content to denounce wrong. It’s not about exposing the wrong for humiliation or to gain support against someone. That’s not God’s love. Instead, the goal is to help the person turn from the wrongdoing and recognize God’s willingness, even longing, to heal and save. No exceptions. Just because someone has a sketchy past, just because there’s a longstanding pattern of unrighteous behavior, just because the person is on the opposing aisle of politics or values doesn’t give us the justification to respond in unrighteousness.

If this verse stopped after the first phrase, we might be able to justify our heated confrontation, but there’s more. “But” is an important word, because it indicates how we’re supposed to respond in God’s love. Instead of rejoicing in unrighteousness—instead of joining the ranks of wrongdoing even when we’re responding to someone else’s wrongdoing—we are to rejoice in truth of God’s love. If we love God, we respond with action that reflects God’s love.

Love isn’t ignorant. It doesn’t ignore unrighteousness. It knows the truth of the wrongdoing but loves enough to move toward the best possible. Jesus loved us while we were still sinners, and He provides us the example of how we can love others regardless of where others are, showing them His love. Love finds the truth and rejoices in it. You would be hard-pressed to find anyone who does not have something truthful within them. After all, everyone is created in God’s image. That in and of itself is truthful, loving, and worth rejoicing.

 

Dear God, this one steps on my toes, because I know that I am not always loving with people who are behaving so clearly in opposition to God’s will. I have difficulty finding any truth to rejoice in and alongside them. You challenge me to see the world, including people, with the eyes of Your love and truth instead of my distortion and misrepresentation. I trust You.