Sunday, April 16, 2006

How do we know we love someone?

I've been meditating on 1 John 5:1-5 for a couple of months. John poses a very practical question that every person asks (hopefully regularly): How do I(practically) love someone--my child, spouse, friend, enemy....? Too often we consider the "tasks"--provide, protect,.... Yet, love is not a matter of duty. Anyone can accomplish some tasks yet love very poorly.

I've come to conclude something quite simple, obvious in all the Bible once one sees it and thinks on it for a bit. Though initially abstract, my wrestling with the idea has proven over the years to be more practical than ANY advice on loving I've heard or read or experienced. In one sentence, it is this: Only when we savor Christ will we serve each other. This dictum, if you will, speaks to the fuel or motivation for love; after all, that's the tough part when we're tired or trying to sustain a love for someone who's not so lovable.

Consider 2 texts. First is 1 Peter 4:11, "Whoever serves, [let him serve] as one who serves by the strength that God supplies--in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ." But what is this strength, which will sustain our love while most glorifying God? Nehemiah answers us directly, "...the joy of the Lord is your strength" (8:10).

As we fight to understand and feel the weight of these verses together, we find out how it is not only possible to love others as we are commanded but also how to obey an equally explicit command, "Serve the Lord with gladness" (Ps. 100:2).
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