What does it mean to sacrificially and unconditionally love others? (1 John 4:10–12)
The Bible is a complex narrative. But what is the big—yet simple—idea behind all the stories and teachings contained in this ancient book? Love—love dominates God’s story.
Jesus confirmed that two commands from the Old Testament—love God and love others—as the greatest of all the commandments during an encounter recorded in the New Testament between Jesus and the religious leaders. [See Mark 12:28–34.]
Followers of God are to live lives distinctly different from those around them. They are to be forgiving and self-giving, showing love to all.
Our capacity to love begins with receiving God’s love for us. From this reservoir we pour out love toward each other. The presence of God’s Spirit in us, working through us to overcome our passion for self in favor of loving others, is confirmation that we are in fact children of God.
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, 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. (1 John 4:10–12)
I am committed to loving God and loving others.
KEY APPLICATION: What difference does this make in the way I live?
For one thing, Jesus’ love in our hearts enables us to love those we could never love before.
The following story is an amazing display of God’s love and a strong example of the power of how radically a life can be changed by Christ.
Chris Carrier of Coral Gables, Florida, was ten years old when a man became so angry with Chris’s father that he abducted Chris. The kidnapper burned him with cigarettes, stabbed him numerous times with an ice pick, shot him in the head, and then dumped him out to die in the Everglades. Miraculously, Chris survived and was found. His only lasting physical effect from the ordeal was losing sight in one eye. His attacker was never captured.
Carrier became a Christian and later served as a youth pastor at a church in Florida. One day, he received word that a man named David McAllister, a seventy-seven-year-old frail and blind ex-con living in a Miami Beach nursing home, had confessed to committing the crime all those years ago.
So Carrier headed to Miami. Did he take a gun? Did he plot revenge on the way there? After all, now the tables were turned. The old man was helpless, just as Chris had been when McAllister tortured and shot him, leaving him for dead. No. Revenge wasn’t Chris’s motive, as it had been his captor’s. Carrier was going God’s direction—toward forgiveness. And, amazingly, yes, even love.
Chris began visiting McAllister regularly and often read the Bible and prayed with him. Through these visits, Carrier eventually led McAllister to his Lord. Carrier said, “While many people can’t understand how I could forgive David McAllister, from my point of view, I couldn’t not forgive him. If I’d chosen to hate him all these years, or spent my life looking for revenge, then I wouldn’t be the man I am today, the man my wife and children love, the man God has helped me to be.”
Each day as we live out our lives, Jesus loves us unconditionally and sacrificially, and he offers ongoing forgiveness. He asks us, his followers, to offer the same in our relationships. Why? This new breed of love allows us to be involved in healthy relationships and also to be free to express God’s love to the world.
Taken from NIV Believe
You think you know yourself. You no doubt think well of yourself. Maybe you think you are a ‘good’ person harming no-one and doing unto them as you would have them do unto you? You no doubt would feel aggrieved if they didn’t but what about you? Do you do good unto others before they reciprocate or do you only respond in kind or maybe not at all? The real truth is that you were known long before you existed. God knows you and He also knows what your responses will be long before you do! It is good that we love one another and do good unto others for this is the way of God. He loves you whether you love Him or not but your relationship with Him is harmed when your relationships with others fails because of a lack of effort on your part. If you don’t believe in God then you can’t believe in good and evil. God is good and everything that goes against Him is evil. If you believe you are good then you are deceived for no-one is good not even one. We all fall short of God’s glory. Our relationship with our Father is broken because of this. Jesus Christ stands in the gap and presents us pure and holy to God……..if we believe in Him.
It sometimes takes a lot of effort to get E out of her chair if I wish to show her something, especially if that is something in the garden. If it is cold and even when it isn’t that cold she grumbles that she needs to put on a coat before stepping out. So it was on Sunday morning just before we had lunch. She tells me that she feels the cold, which she does and I have known that ever since we met but there are times when it isn’t as cold as she thinks it is. Nevertheless being as she is a bit stubborn there is no way she won’t wear a coat if she thinks it is cold. It’s just her way I suppose. I am far less troubled by a low temperature or a little wind though I have to confess I hate the wind when it is strong. Eventually I got her to go into the garden with me so that I could show her some of the flowers that have sprung up recently, crocus, snowdrops, daffodils, tulips and hyacinths to name a few. She is fond of flowers as I am too except that I prefer those that don’t grow from bulbs. I find it strange that for someone who professes to love these early flowers E seldom goes into the garden at this time of year. Anyway we spent some time out there and whilst there she asked about the bluebells I had been digging out on Saturday and where I had found them. As my readers will know digging out bluebells and montbretia took me months to do this time last year. I knew there would be some still to dig out this year and maybe that will be the same next year too but they are far fewer in number than when I first started. Even so there are still quite a few popping up occasionally. She called me over to a spot where she had noticed a couple more which I had obviously missed. I dug them out then she showed me more in another bed so I dug them out too! That is typical of E, she is quick to show me things I have missed or mistakes I have made. I laugh about it and say ‘Yes boss, I’ll do it right away boss’…….Ha, ha, ha.
Paul says that God “chose us in him” to emphasize that salvation depends totally on God. We are not saved because we deserve it, but because God is gracious and freely gives salvation. We did not influence God’s decision to save us; he saved us according to his plan. Thus there is no way to take credit for our salvation or to allow room for pride. The mystery of salvation originated in the timeless mind of God long before we existed. It is hard to understand how God could accept us. But because of Christ, we are holy and blameless in his sight. God chose us, and when we belong to him through Jesus Christ, God looks at us as if we had never sinned. All we can do is express our thanks for his wonderful love.
Who else can say that they are loved by God for His Spirit is in them? Our relationship with God is a two-way street, any and every relationship is. God does love you dear reader even if you do not love Him. Having a relationship with your Creator is a truly wonderful thing, better than any other relationship you may have in you life. You may not think you are worthy to have such a relationship or even think it possible but you would be wrong in thinking that. God’s arms are open wide to receive all who would call upon Him and He has made it possible, not you or by anything you do. To have a relationship with God is only possible because of what Jesus has done for you. He took upon Himself the sins of the world, even your sins, so that if you believe in Him and the One who sent Him you will be saved for all eternity and the relationship with God will have begun. Like any relationship it gets better the deeper it gets.
Life can be so hard sometimes but it can be so easy too. Things often seem more difficult or hard to deal with than they actually warrant. We ourselves can make life’s situations more difficult but if we could just stop and think things over we might find no problem really insurmountable. In every area of our lives this is so. However, it is one thing to overcome everyday situations we feel we could not previously handle and another when it involves others. Relationships with fellow humans can be fraught with difficulties especially where there is a clash of personalities, ideas, beliefs and so on but it shouldn’t be that way. It is a matter of how much we really love the other person, do we humble ourselves and put them first even if we know they are wrong? As Christians we are told to love one another, to love our neighbour (which is everyone else living on the planet) and in doing so honouring Christ. It doesn’t always work that way as anyone will tell you. I was watching a television program whilst waiting for another program to begin and it was called ‘Nightmare neighbour next door’. Many in the UK will probably have watched it themselves. The title is somewhat self-explanatory but in essence it reports relationships about people living next to each other who for one of many reasons just don’t get on with each other. Often the friction is one-sided and often it is based upon trivial concerns. As outsiders we can see the whole story and the stubbornness of people who simply cannot see their way to make an effort to resolve their differences. It is about love and putting others before ourselves but at the same time we shouldn’t simply let others take advantage. Being humble doesn’t mean being servile. Whilst watching one incident between two neighbours it seemed obvious that only one of them, a woman, was the source of the problems between them. The guy who lived next door had to put up with her unbelievably bad behaviour and for some time until one day he took complete control just using words. At this point I fell about with laughter at what he had said. Leaning over the wall which separated them he calmly said to her face ‘God you are ugly’ and then walked away. He had no further problems from that day forth. Now I wouldn’t advocate being verbally abusive to anyone but I had to admit he had made his hard life a lot easier with just a few words.
I very seldom if ever write about my personal relationships in my posts though I have been more open in my personal pages above regarding such things. It is hard for me to do so now. Life can be so difficult at times. Stressful situations, personal relationships, financial problems, poor health, irritating neighbours and many more can all have a detrimental effect upon us. As a Christian I am called to rise above these things yet I may still have to deal with them, in fact being a Christian does not mean I will never be affected by them or that they will somehow magically disappear, they won’t. Our difficulties arise when we don’t know how to deal with them. Fellow Christians will say things like, ‘Trust in The Lord’, ‘Lay all your burdens at His feet’, and they would be quite right but we have to meet Him half-way. We have to do our bit too. If we approach things in the right way and trust in The Lord’s guidance we will overcome. Sometimes though no matter what we do it doesn’t seem to work, at least as we thought it should and that is the point, not everything is going to work out the way we want it or expect it to do. Good friends give good advice. We’ve all heard the saying, ‘Some people will never change’, yet we often continue attempting to persuade them. This has been especially true in my own situation. My ex, ‘E’, is a prime example. Over the years (forty-four) I have known her she has been stubborn. We used to go to church together at one point but her heart wasn’t in it. She always blamed her mom for ‘forcing’ her to attend church when younger and that is why she says she doesn’t believe in God. Many times I have witnessed to her but the main way was by example, showing love, being tolerant and understanding and not putting her under pressure. Nothing worked and still doesn’t. I have to live with her and it can be so difficult. I could have left her, deserted her and left her to her own devices but because of my love and concern I persevered. I still persevere and will continue to do so until I die though she may never change. Aside from her beliefs just living together is sometimes problematical for me as I am very often not treated well by her even though I treat her with love and respect and we end up not speaking. Usually it is because of her stubborn refusal to apologise for her behaviour toward me when she is in the wrong. My friend tries to cheer me up and she tells me not to let E’s behaviour affect my own peace and happiness but that is so hard to do. I get knocked down but I get up again and again and again. I refuse to give in to her bad behaviour yet I have to forgive her. I always forgive her but it never seems to have any effect. Sometimes I feel at my wit’s end wondering if things between us will always be this way. Unless you live with a person like E you will never really know what it is like. Leaving her isn’t an option, she needs more love.
Tuesday was a very miserable day. The whole of this current week is forecasted as having poor weather, that is wet, windy and cold though not entirely cold. I had a couple of requests in the morning but they came to nothing and one of those nuisance calls most people are receiving these days regarding PPI (Payment Protection Insurance) claims. I was busy doing something on my computer when that call came in and I was caught off-guard thinking it might be a request for my electrical services. I glanced at the callers number and mistakenly thought it was someone living in the next town whose telephone prefix would be 01695 whereas in fact it was prefixed 0161. That prefix is for Manchester a city more than forty miles away and where I have no known contacts either for business or for personal reasons. It was the first three digits that threw me but I was not concentrating. A young girl began with a welcoming message and I had a little difficulty in stopping her as almost immediately I realised my error. I told her that I have never taken out a payment protection plan of any kind in the past and she then tried to persuade me otherwise. Too late! I had put down the receiver.
Most annoying are these cold calls but even more annoying that I should have been caught off-guard. What is particularly annoying is the fact that this company ( a law firm specialising in claims) thinks I have an outstanding claim of some sort. I haven’t. Where they get this information I am not sure but it only takes one error by someone who has not closed any case files and removed them from their system. As these companies exchange file data it means anything I have been involved in, even though it may have been resolved many years ago, is still on somebody’s books.
Although I had no electrical work to do on Tuesday I didn’t do any work at home either. Aside from the fact that we are still waiting for the delivery of a new cooker extractor hood which is holding back the kitchen project I really didn’t want to be working on anything anyway. Even working in the garden was not an option because of the lousy weather. My heart wasn’t in it and that is because my relationship with E has turned a little sour once again. It is a sad affair that keeps rearing its ugly head every now and then. I guess I should have left years ago but I know I would have suffered more had I done so. I am not the sort of person who gives up in the face of difficulty and besides which I love E dearly.
I have not been enjoying the best of health lately due to the problems I have been experiencing with mouth abscesses and toothache. I have been feeling run-down and according to my dentist it was probably due to my condition. The feelings are similar to those of ‘flu. Nevertheless I have soldiered on as best I can and it got better as the days passed by. I write this on Friday evening after a day feeling weary from working in the morning and having to endure the pain of toothache. Until the antibiotics complete their work I shan’t be free of pain completely so I have resorted to taking paracetamol tablets for the time being though I try not to take medications if I can avoid it. Sometimes the pain is too great though isn’t it? I took E out to a late lunch in our local pub and had a lovely time together chatting about this and that. I love company and being able to speak to others but over the last few months I have not had that privilege except at work. We drove to the vehicle service station later to have that exhaust box fitted that I mentioned in my previous post. We had a great time there too! E and I hadn’t been talking for some time but we finally sorted out the problems between us. It is hard not speaking to someone you love and have been with for over forty years. Anyway life is now looking good again and already we are planning to work together on the patio project, the construction of the flowerbed. E is limited in what she can do to assist but I know she will want to render that assistance anyway. Just the fact that she will be there will be an encouragement. According to the weather forecast for the next four days we expect dry and sunny days, ideal for setting concrete and laying bricks. I hope I don’t overdo things, I am sure I won’t and hopefully I will be as right as rain again soon. I felt better than I did yesterday.
Wednesday afternoon and it is raining. The day started very bright and sunny and remained that way until a little before eleven o’clock. It was expected though and somewhat welcomed by myself. I sat out on the patio after breakfast with a cup of coffee and something to read, actually my Bible. Yes, I am reading it through yet again after finishing reading it through a couple of months ago. I am now about to read the Book of Numbers. This is not however the subject of my post. I sat out there for quite some time before returning indoors as it was starting to get noticeably cooler once the clouds rolled in. I spent the rest of the day indoors though I could have gone for a walk if only to relieve the boredom. I had no electrical work and nothing I wanted to do inside the house even though there are things I could be doing. My heart simply wasn’t in it. I occupied my time cooking, playing guitar, doing things on my computer like writing this post, watching a little television and reading and general household chores. Although I am very domesticated life spent totally at home would bore the socks off me! It was nice to look out at the rain whilst knowing that I didn’t have to go out in it. It was raining outside but it has been raining inside too, inside my heart. My personal life has been upset because the relationship I have with E is not what it was. For so long I have been taken for granted, shown little respect on occasion and often ignored. We haven’t spoken since the start of February because I reached a breaking point after once more being snapped at. Many times I have been badly treated but made the effort to heal the rift and forgive. I always forgive but that doesn’t mean I have to put up with ill-treatment and so I had to back-off. How long it will take before E repents and apologises for her behaviour is not known but I wait patiently. I like the rain but that falling in my heart takes a little more getting used to. I am discovering though that I am getting used to it, I don’t really have a choice.
Now I don’t usually work on a Sunday unless someone has an emergency of sorts but late on Sunday morning a lady called me to ask if I could help her with an electrical problem that continued to trip out the lighting supply. At that stage the remainder of the household installation was unaffected but a possible leakage current on the lighting circuit could change that situation. Evidently a lamp had broken in its holder which left its metal base firmly stuck. Furthermore the lighting switch didn’t seem to be working properly either. I told her how to remove the broken lamp base safely which she did but the faulty switch still needed replacing. I would have to go there, replace it and check everything was in order if she agreed. She asked that I should go but that she was just about to go to work. She works as a nurse at the local hospital. However I could go there at two o’clock when a neighbour would be there to let me in (and pay me). I agreed and she thanked me, going on to say that she was new to domestic problems such as these as her husband usually took care of them. It seems her husband had recently left her and the two children of ten and twelve years, though when I called they were both with their father at his house wherever that was. She was the third woman in the last few days, in fact since last Monday, to have told me that her husband had absconded. It seems to be a regular thing hereabouts for over the last couple of years I have come across quite a number of women in the same situation, four of them in this month alone! A sign of the times I suppose. Had the lady been at home when I called she might have told me the reason for their separation as many of them do. Perhaps it helps them to cope with the situation when they can speak about it with others. It is such a shame nevertheless. I did her job in about ten minutes and was back home within the hour. I am wondering just how many more women are going to call me for help because their husbands have left the home. The neighbour was an elderly gentleman who was quite surprised to see a female electrician attend to the job and he told me that he and the lady I had been working for would be adding me to their list of people to call when they want a job doing. That was nice.
Apart from working for a short time on Saturday morning the long weekend was pretty much a boring affair. The weather on Saturday was appalling, wet and windy for the most part and I don’t remember if I saw that Sun even once! Sunday was a little better, more so toward the end of the day and Monday morning I was awakened to bright blue skies. As I write this on Monday morning I have no plans for the day though I might go for a walk later. However, because it is a national holiday most places will be filled with people, especially in town. I therefore usually avoid town for that reason, preferring a walk along the seafront instead. I have stopped all work at home until further notice except for those jobs that are emergencies or maintenance, like mowing the lawn for instance. I doubt E could mow the lawn nowadays with her health problems. With the way I am getting treated by E lately though I have lost all interest and that really goes against the grain because I like working at home and getting things done. I feel I am not appreciated most of the time. It is such a shame as there are jobs I’d like to be doing in order to improve the interior of the house, refurbishing the central heating, a couple of bedrooms and other things. Everything I do at home is funded by myself, E makes no financial contribution simply because she cannot afford it. At the moment all my expendable income is getting saved except where I want to treat myself now and then, which isn’t often at all! My electrical work keeps me happy and helps fund all my projects. I will be glad to get back to it if and when I get requests. As I look out of my front room window I see the flag blowing in the wind and I am hoping the wind will drop a little so that being outside is more enjoyable, then I might take that walk.