Recently, I was thinking about God’s love. I was wondering how He could love wretched people, people that say they love Him yet fail Him daily. People like me and you. I think the Apostle Paul went through this and understood that only Jesus could deliver him from himself.
18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but [how] to perform what is good I do not find. 19 For the good that I will [to do], I do not do; but the evil I will not [to do], that I practice. 20 Now if I do what I will not [to do], it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 21 I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. 22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 I thank God--through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin. - Rom 7:18-25 NKJV
There is much to be said about these words penned by Paul, but I will stick with one area of his words to make my point. Paul struggled with doing what was right. Sound like anyone you know? I was thinking about God’s love because I was having a hard time understanding love from my human perspective.
Some people have been programmed to believe they can only receive love based on what they do. Some believe love is a consequence of doing things right and if they make a mistake then they are not worthy of love. God's love is not conditional.
Sometimes, when people get upset, they tend to withhold affection and love. They desire, at times, to get even with those who hurt them. This desire is in direct opposition to the word God spoke through Jesus Christ. Jesus said to bless those who curse you. Yet, we curse those that hurt us; even if we only do it in our thoughts, it matters to God.
King David cried out, Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. - Psa 51:10 A clean heart is a heart that has been dumped at the foot of the cross. It is a heart that, in spite of one’s own will, is surrendered to God. David understood that God desires truth in our inward parts, and in the hidden part, He makes us to know wisdom (Ps 51:6). God desires obedience and a hard heart is a rebellious and disobedient heart.
I was wrestling with God’s love because I was emotionally distraught over some things that had transpired in my life recently. People had let me down, disappointed me, and put their own feelings and agendas above what I believed God had planned for them. I cannot convince people that they need to seek God’s kingdom and His righteousness first; most of them should already know that. They do, they forget. Life gets in the way.
So, as I was thinking about my own ability to do what I wanted to do, which was love those who let me down, I begin to see a vision. In this vision, I saw my earthly father hug me. Hugs were not given too much in my family, but there were a lot of verbal and physical things that did not represent love. When a hug came along, it felt like it needed to last a long time but, in this vision, I understood it differently. God was showing me that if a broken and disturbed person could love and hug someone after they had done wrong, then He could definitely love far greater. He was showing me that when we seek love through a human lens, we measure it by our works and our ability to earn love.
God never asked us to earn His love. Indeed, He said we love Him because He loved us first. He sent His only begotten Son to die on a cross and suffer from disrespect and humility for our sins so we could live. Human love could never do this. Some will indeed risk their lives for another, but there is not one who would give their child up for another. God did.
Every day that we struggle with receiving love is another opportunity to seek our Father’s face in a new light, the light of Jesus Christ. Broken humans will put stipulations on loving another, not always, but most of the time. There is always a gain in it for us to love someone because we do it out of an expectation that they will love us back. But what if they don’t? What if a person is incapable of giving love, yet you expect it from them?
Jesus was “broken” for us on the cross. But He [was] wounded for our transgressions, [He was] bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace [was] upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. - Isa 53:5 The Hebrew translation of the word wounded means to break, defile, sorrow, wound, or stain. The difference in Jesus’ brokenness and ours is that He had died to His humanness yet remained fully human. That sounds confusing, but when He came to the earth, He was fully human and fully God. He could not do all His miracles as God or we would never be able to do the things He did and greater.
Jesus had to take the cross as a human yet in the strength of God. That is how we love. Being fully human, yet having been made in the image of God with the Spirit of God dwelling in us, makes it possible to love out of our brokenness. Eventually, we will get better at it. We will love with ease and flow as we allow the love of our Heavenly Father to flow through the very veins, He created in us.
God is Love. 8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. ... 16 And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. - 1Jo 4:8, 16
There is human love, and there is God Love. We have to make a choice to abide in His love so we can love as He does.
Heavenly Father, Abba, I cry out for Your love. I am in desperate need to be received by You, to know Your love and believe it. Nothing in my flesh is deserving of Your great love, and yet Your word tells me that You love me anyway. Every time I desire to do the right thing, my wounded soul causes me to wrestle it out. I find myself being exhausted with the fight. Strengthen me today in Your strength. Release new mercy over me, and I will be refreshed. Extend Your grace to me and I will be strengthened. In Jesus name, Amen