Defining Love

I was recently challenged by God to put the Fruits of the Spirit into practice this year so in nine months after having put them all into practice I will be a new creature in Christ. The first one on the list is love.
As I began to think about how I was going to do this I was challenged. What is the next step? Do I just start out trying to love everybody? Do I study the Bible stories and parables to figure out what the next step is? Do I look at the many characters in the Bible and follow their example? Do I look at people’s lives that I admire and follow their example of loving others?
As I prayed about it God gave me an idea. I needed to define love in the simplest terms. So I went to 1 Corinthians 13. The verses 4-7 tells me what love is, “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” This was good, but it didn’t satisfy me.
I realize for me I needed an example of God’s perfect love to help me understand what love really is. I found it in this verse, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 That was the beginning of me digging into finding out what love is. I started out by rewriting this to read, “For God so loved Becky that he gave his only Son, so that Becky who believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. I was on the road to finding out what love is all about.
I needed to realize I am so loved by God that he died for me so I might have life. All I have to do is believe in Him. It doesn’t say I have to work for him, be good enough for him or come to him after trying to fix myself. All I need to do is believe in Him and accept the love He has for me.
 Now because I have been in church all my life I know what God’s son sacrificed for me. He suffered, he bled, and he died on the cross with all my pass sins, the sins I commit now and the sins I will commit. He took all that junk that I have had or have or will have in my life and he nailed them to the cross with him. He who knew no sin took my sin to the cross with him. All he wants from me in return is to believe in him. If I believe in him then mostly like I am going to live like I do.
I can’t love others if I don’t know love or have never experienced love. I am reminded of a puppy or kitten (or you decide what you want to put here) who has been abused and mistreated and never loved. If they don’t know love they can’t express it until a pet lover comes along and loves them. Once they feel that love they can begin to show their love toward the one that loved them first.
Yes, my parents were the first ones I felt love from. As I grew up in church I realized God loved me even more than my parents did. He went to the cross for me. I am sure my parents would have given the choice, but they didn’t need to because Christ already had.
So the first step for me is realizing how much God loves me. Along with that I have to feel God’s love. I do that through scripture.
Romans 5:8, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
1 John 4:16, “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. 
Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.”
John 16:27, “No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me 
and have believed that I came from God.”

These are just some verses that talks about God’s love toward us. I challenge you to dig into your Bible and find other verses that talk about God’s love toward us. I also challenge you to come up with a definition for love, not romantic love, but God’s kind of love. How would you put it into words? Is there scripture that defines love for you? Start a Fruit of the Spirit Journal today and write down those things that define love for you. Write a prayer each day asking God to help you get the love right.
In the meantime, I will be looking into God’s love for me. I will try to understand how deep his love is for me before I continue the process of learning to love others.
I think this is going to be an exciting year. I hope you are ready to join me.
Dear God: I know I could jump in and try to start loving others the way you did, but I know you are challenging me to know and feel the love you have for me before I begin this journey. I pray you bring to mind scriptures, stories and examples of true love. Thank you for challenging me. I know you will be with me on the journey. Thank you for your love and for dying on the cross for me. Amen
God bless each of you!

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