DAY 24

“We love because He first loved us. If anyone says, 'I love God,' and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.”

1 John 4:19-21

THE GIFT OF LOVE

When I gave my life to Christ, the first thing I felt God do was take down every wall around my heart so that He could get in. I found myself becoming softer towards others but also extremely sensitive. I was truly vulnerable for the first time, and this vulnerability towards God made me thirst for more of his Love, which in turn taught me how to truly love others. It has become an ebb and flow, a give and take, a beautiful exchange, as He continues to fight for me every time I try to protect my heart with my own man made walls.

When we welcome God into our lives, He must deal with our hearts—“for out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks” (Luke 6:35). God loves us, His kids, so much that He not only cares about our heart, He also is looking out for His other son’s and daughter’s hearts through us. Because God is Love, it is impossible to love Him back without receiving His heart for us and for others. And so, through how God speaks to us, we in turn learn how to speak to others, and through how God loves us, we in turn learn how to love one another.

Jesus was such an amazing gift and example of how we are to love people. He has taught us to love our enemies by praying for them. When we pray for our enemies, we begin to see God’s very heart for them. Through spending time with God, He will begin to give us His thoughts for others, and His love towards us will free us to love others well.

John the Evangelist is not condemning us when he calls us a liar so much as convicting us to love and pray for these people whom we feel ill toward. For, when we truly love God but hate our brother, we are missing a major part of the Gospel. To know God is to know Love, to feel loved and to be loved. Out of this love we no longer need to compensate for our lack thereof, but out of the overflow of His magnificent love, we are able to freely love others, and love them well.

In this season of Advent, as we remember the gift of Christ coming into our lives, may we also welcome Him back into our hearts. May we let Him show afresh how much He truly loves us, and in return may we love Him back by also loving His children and our fellow brothers and sisters. May we celebrate the gift of Christ by giving God the gift of loving His children.

Paula Lark