1 John 4:19–5:4;Psalm 72:1-2, 14-15, 17; Luke 4:14-22
He first loved us. (1 John 4:19)
If you’ve ever followed an instruction manual, you know how it works. After you complete step one, you proceed to step two, and then three, and eventually—if you’re a little savvy—you move to the final step of complete assembly. Now what would happen if, as you are attempting to put something together, you realize that the order of the steps in your manual is all jumbled up? You can imagine the mess you would have on your hands!
John here gives us an instruction manual, of sorts, to help us understand something about love. We love because he first loved us… . Whoever loves God must also love his brother (1 John 4:19, 21). Let’s say that the last step here—the finished product—is loving others. What do you think would be the first step, according to John’s manual?
If you said, “God loves us,” you got it right!
Here’s the key to the whole manual: as we follow Jesus’ command to love one another, we need to make sure we are in touch with God’s love for us. If you aren’t receiving it yourself, you will surely have a difficult time giving it away!
This love manual makes sense. It describes a pattern of receiving God’s love, loving God in return, and then pouring that love out to others. It sounds easy and intuitive enough, doesn’t it? But our own experience might show patterns where we need to stick more closely to John’s prescription. For instance, maybe there are people you have decided to love, but loving them is more frustrating than you thought it would be, and you don’t know if you have anything left to give. If you ever find yourself in such a situation, it’s worth asking whether you have accidentally jumbled up the order. This is why the manual can be so important.
One of the best ways to find God’s love is to meditate on it in prayer. Sit before a crucifix, and ponder the fact that Jesus gave up his life for you. Or gaze into the night sky and think about the God who created such grandeur and yet knows you intimately and calls you his own child. Let his love saturate your heart, and you will find the strength to love.
“Father, fill me up with your love!”~wau