He loved us FIRST!

The Lord caught my attention while studying I Corinthians with one of my girls.  We just finished chapter 14, and out of the entire passage there was one phrase that grabbed me and would not let me go.  The first two words:


I Cor 13 gives us the definition of love - and according to I Cor 14, I am to pursue that love.  It is an action verb requiring movement and intent.

Pursue: (according to the Merriam Webster dictionary)
to follow and try to catch or capture someone or something, usually for a long distance or time; to try to get or do something over a period of time; to be involved in an activity

So let's put these together.

God is asking me to follow, capture, and be involved in love for a long period of time.
The definition of love is everything described in I Corinthians 13.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends.
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Therefore, I am commanded to catch and remain involved in (until Christ returns one would assume!) ...

patience and kindness
joy for the blessings and gifts given to others
humility and gentleness
putting others first
compassion for the sin of others
a willingness to be long-suffering in everything
a willingness to endure all things, good or bad
the belief that God can do all things
a hope that God will work all things together for good
an unending and eternal love

What a fascinating thought!  Pursuing, chasing, catching all of these things ... all of these characteristics that DEFINE love.  
a very high standard to achieve.

But here is the BEST part!!  God knows we are incapable of loving on our own.  He knows our sin nature always seeks 'self' before it seeks to love others selflessly.  He knew that the only way we could ever love would be for Him to love us first.  And then, He showed us the most convincing evidence of that love when He sent His Son to suffer and die for us.

He gave us the blueprint!  We have the plans, instructions and design for loving one another laid out before us in black and white!  There is no mystery.  There need not be an elaborate hunt to obtain the 'secret' of love.  He tells us what love is in the Scriptures!  And then He comforts us still more by reminding us that He knows love does not originate within our flesh ... but only through His Spirit.  The Spirit convicts us, teaches us, reveal to us, and enables us to love the way Christ commands because ... GOD IS LOVE.  And it is through His might, not our own will or desire, that we are able to love one another.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us.
We love because He first loved us.  I John 4

What a JOY!  What a promise!  What comfort!

Love comes from GOD.  Not us. 
We cannot manufacture it, or even understand it.
But He opens our eyes to reveal the truth of His love ... an all-consuming, jealous, eternal, patient, and unconditional love.
And it is THIS LOVE that draws us to repentance.
It is THIS LOVE that makes us cling to the Cross.
It is THIS LOVE that gives us the desire to even want to love a holy God.

And it is this love, the perfect and beautiful love of a Creator for His creation, that allows us the joy of tasting the smallest portion of His love for us through the love relationships He blesses us with on earth.

We love because ...
He first loved us.

Thank You, Lord, for such an indescribable gift!

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