It seems like the people I want to love the best are the ones I wind up treating the worst…
Can you relate with that at all?
The scriptures say that I am a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), that the old is gone and the new has come…
I still find myself irritated, impatient, angry, selfish, and the like… at home.
And I hate it.
It’s not the way I am supposed to be toward my family and it’s not the way I want to be.
Over the years I’ve struggled to find the source of my hypocrisy. I want to know why I’m still the way I am and how to change it, because deep down inside I truly want to be changed and I want my family to experience the fruit of that change (The fruit of the Spirit is love – Galatians 5:22).
My newest discovery: the key to a loving family
I’m always, Always, ALWAYS hesitant to call anything a “key” to something else. To me it implies some magical formula or secret that will fix every problem. In my experience and understanding of the word, God seldom sets things up that way.
But in this case, after much prayer, I feel like it’s accurate to say that what I’m about to share with you is indeed THE KEY to a loving family.
The reason I’m so sure is because it’s stated that way (almost) in the scriptures. And it’s not just about the family, it’s about all of life. Look with me for a moment at 1 John chapter 4, verses 11-12.
John begins with the goal – to love one another. Isn’t that what we want? We want to be able to love our family like we should. We want it to be said of us, “He/she is a loving person.”
But look at the second part of the first sentence. That’s where we find what lays behind loving behavior. It’s a truth: love is from God. He says it later by saying, “God is love.”
God is love
It’s in the very nature of God to love… so much so that John says that God IS love. To make a point of how true this is, John highlights that God did the ultimate loving thing; He gave His only Son to be the payment for OUR sins. He gave of Himself, fully, unreservedly, holding nothing back, so that we (the guilty ones) could receive and experience His love.
THAT is God’s kind of love.
We are not love
In who I am naturally, my corrupt “spiritual DNA”, there is nothing of that kind of love.
I don’t give freely.
I don’t sacrifice myself or my desires
I don’t reach out to the undeserving and unlovely.
I don’t even easily love those who are closest to me.
I am not like God in that way.
I am not love.
But here is where we have to pay close attention to John’s words, to John’s reasoning. Look at the phrases John uses to describe a person who loves…
- whoever loves has been born of God
- whoever loves… knows God
- if we love one another God’s love abides in us
- if we love one another… God’s love is perfected in us
It’s kind of a round-about way of getting to his point, but John is telling us that our love or lack of love is evidence of what is true on the inside.[pullquote position=”right”]If we are loving, we are giving evidence that God is in us, that we know Him, that his love abides in us.[/pullquote]
If we are not loving, we are giving evidence that those things are not a present reality within us.
So what is the key?
We must abide in God’s love ourselves.
The more we experience His love ourselves, the more we will be soaked in it, saturated by it, effected by it.
The effect of God’s love
What does it do to you, inside, to know that…
- In yourself you are unlovely, but God has loved you anyway?
- You are condemned to eternal death and separation from God because you are a sinner, but God has given of Himself, freely, unreservedly by sending His son to take your punishment for you?
- You are unable to live or love in accordance with what God desires, but by sending Jesus God has made a way for you to truly live as He desires?
Soak yourself in those truths. Let your heart absorb them like a sponge. As God’s love transforms you, you will be transformed. You will begin to manifest that same kind of love in the way you relate to others.
You see, [pullquote position=”right”]love for others is the evidence that we are abiding in God, not the means to it.[/pullquote]
The REAL key
I used to try to focus on being loving… but instead, based on what John teaches, I’ve been working to set my mind on the fact that HE, who is love, is now living in me.
I AM now loving because HE is in me and is able to express His love through me.
I am learning to set aside my “buts” (but I don’t feel loving, but I don’t always love, etc.) and simply ACCEPT BY FAITH what God says is true… HE, who IS love, lives in me.
This idea is slowly transforming me… and I’m happy for the change.
As this change becomes more of a reality for me, the dad… my home is going to take on a new tone.
Later in 1 John 4, John will teach us about the role fear plays in the act of being unloving.
Stay tuned for my thoughts on that one…