February 10 I Wednesday
“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” —1 John 4:8
Love is the greatest of all virtues. We find it twice in John’s first letter where he writes these three words: God is love. Love is not an attribute or a quality of God, like God is omnipotent (He is all-powerful), omniscient (He knows everything) and omnipresent (He is everywhere at the same time). Love is actually the very nature of God. Love defines His very being; in fact, even His wrath is an expression of His love. It is because He is love that He hates things that destroy, defile and corrupt us. This is why in Scripture, the wrath of God is a necessary expression of His love. If God was not angry with sin, we would question whether He really loves the sinner.
The goal of the gospel is the restoration and reproduction of the character of God within us. For this reason, if God is love, love is intended to characterize those of us who are made in His image and designed to be a physical, visible portrayal of who God is. While on this earth, we are, however, still broken by sin; therefore, the love of God in us is filtered through the fallen nature and we see it marred in our own life and experience. Regardless, the love of God in us and through us is the highest expression of the Christian life.
Jesus tells His disciples, “A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34). Jesus’s command reveals our capacity to love is to know first that we ourselves are loved. That alone becomes the reservoir out of which we are able to love one another. This is why fundamental to our experience as a Christian and the outworking of the character of God in us is the need to know that we are loved. Not just that we are saved, or we have been delivered, or we are going to heaven one day or our past is gone, but that we are actually loved.
Some of us may have trouble understanding this because we do not find ourselves lovable. Yet, the marvellous thing is that we do not have to be loveable. The love that God has for us does not originate in the attraction of the loved but in the love nature of the lover—God. As we learn to bask in the love of God, who draws us into a relationship with Him where there is no fear, no shame and nothing to hide, we can love others as He loved us.
Prayer: Dear God, thank You for Your perfect love that does not originate in me but in who You are. Help me to understand Your love and love others as You have loved me. Amen!