February 2020: Unconditional Love
Last month we talked about the freshness of a new start. We’re going to start the year off with clear vision, loving God and loving others. This month, we will focus on unconditional love. There are many different types of love, but only one love that is, and that will forever stand.
**Note: You do not, unless you so desire, have to respond to this letter**
February: Unconditional Love
Monthly Focus: Loving God and Loving Others
Key Verses: Romans 5:8; 1 John 4:8
Memory Verse: Jeremiah 31:3
3 The Lord has appeared of old unto me, saying “Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.
I think it’s safe to say we all desire to be loved. We desire love in its purest, most authentic form and want nothing more than to be cared for. Love is an often used and even more often misunderstood word. So, for this study of unconditional love, we will use the biblical definition of love. This standard of love sets the standard and beautiful expectation of what we can receive from the Father. Love is:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a
Isn’t that such a beautifully clear definition of what love is? It’s true beauty rests in the Father’s demonstration of love toward us in every way. Greater than any other savior, any other resource, any other filler of the voids in our hearts and lives, the Father is so quick to shower us in His perfect love towards. Because God is love (1 John 4:8), it would seem to come more naturally to Him than it does for us. However, this does not make us exempt from the call of love. The Word is clear in that we must live lives of love through Him. It’s not of our own power or might, but through His spirit that we are empowered to love.
But truthfully, how loving are you? Do we love like Christ? Or do we love how we want to and when we want to and only to those we feel are deserving of our love? Perhaps you’ve tried to love like Christ, but instead, you’ve been hurt, scarred, taken advantage of, rejected, or some other ill emotion that wasn’t fitting for you? Perhaps loving like Christ was too hard, and the conditions of your past get in the way of extending the extra hand of grace and love your neighbor and your enemy. IF that’s you, I would like you to participate in the following exercise. Years ago I read where we were instructed to take the above verse (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a) and insert our name and determine if each sentence was true. Here, I want to share that opportunity with you:
____ is patient, ____ is kind. ____ does not envy, ____ does not boast, ____ is not proud. ____ does not dishonor others, ____ is not self-seeking, ____ is not easily angered, ____ keeps no records of wrongs. ____ does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. ____ always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. ____ never fails. – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a
When you insert your name into the various sentences above, are they true? Do they hold true for the people you love and who are family, as well as those who you consider a foe. Are the sentences true for your friends as well as those you consider an enemy? Is your love constant for others, and not just yourself?
Fulfilling the call to love others is a big duty. It can be hard to love those we deem unlovable. But OH, thank God He didn’t consider the duty too much when we were unlovable, unforgivable, and uneasy to love. He loves us STILL and continues to allow grace and mercy to accompany His love for us. For that simple fact alone, we should extend the God-given love we receive to others. Love unconditionally this month.
Here are some noteworthy verses for your learning and reflection:
1 John 4:8
Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
But God demonstrates His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
1 John 4:16
So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
1 Peter 4:8
Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you..”