Almost immediately following the removal of Christmas decorations from retailers, Valentine merchandise appears. I am an enthusiast of all of the décor of the season because it reminds me that my gracious heavenly Father is the author of love. Along with admiring the lovely colors and messages, I am reminded of God’s Valentine to me found in John 3:16:
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
Contemplating the verse in the context of the season I am compelled to ask myself, “am I a magnet for God’s love?” A magnet, by definition, is a thing or person which attracts. Is my character and lifestyle such that I attract others because they see my heavenly Father through my lifestyle?
Ephesians 5:1 challenges believers to “be imitators of God as dear children.” This means that daily, as God’s dear children, we are to become more and more like our heavenly Father. Since Scripture is adamant in its instructions to model our heavenly Father’s character, spending time analyzing it is a worthwhile study. Both Psalm 86 and 145 provide us with a synopsis of His character. Let’s focus on Psalm 145 and evaluate it from two perspectives—the first is to identify the character qualities of our heavenly Father. Secondly, the qualities are described in practical terms by asking the question, “As God’s child, how am I to model His character?”
Worthy of praise (145:1). Recall that the Psalms are directed to the will and not the emotions—therefore, I will offer praise at all times (Ps. 34:1, 103, 104). A great project is to read through the Psalms and underline each time the Psalmist says, “I will.”
Deserving of continual praise (145:2). Purpose to praise God throughout the day (Ps. 50:23; Eph. 5:20; 1 Thess. 5:18).
Great, by definition, means much above the ordinary or average, main; chief, and highest in its class (145:3). Choose to be a servant (Matt. 20:26, 23:11; Mark 10:43; John 13:1-16 (an example); 1 Cor. 9:19-22).
Succeeding generations will praise His works (145:4). Adhere to God’s commandments (Ex. 20:1-17) so that others will observe godly behavior in my life and then glorify my heavenly Father (Matt. 5:14-16).
Men speak of God’s awe-inspiring acts (145:6). Eagerly proclaim God’s work in my life—not simply describing events that may make others feel inferior, but living in such a way that demonstrates God continues to change my life for the better (Deut. 32:3; Ps. 150:2; John 10:10).
Others eagerly utter the abundant mercy of the Lord and sing of His righteousness (145:7). Literally bubble over with the joy of the Lord by telling all He has bestowed on me—beginning with the forgiveness of sin (Neh. 8:10b; Ps. 103, 104).
Gracious (145:8). Purpose to integrate the attributes of graciousness—benevolence, kindness, and courtesy—so that my behavior brings honor to my heavenly Father (Prov. 11:16). Demonstrate kindness in excess of what might be expected or demanded by fairness (Luke 6:27-38), and a disposition to forgive (Matt. 6:14-15; John 13:15).
Psalm 145 provides additional character qualities to model. I encourage you to continue this study personally and extend it by analyzing Psalm 86.
The Bible is an epic saga of God’s love for us despite our tendency to turn away from Him and not embrace the magnitude of His love. Kelsey’s Korner focuses on our need to love unbelievers and unrepentant believers. As you consider her timely advice, I urge you to focus on how your thoughts, actions, and words might reflect your heavenly Father’s divine love so that you become a magnet that urges them to forsake their sin and embrace the truth of John 3:16.
Are there people you find challenging to love? Sadly, we all have this difficulty. Usually it’s those who are different from us, especially politically or religiously. When someone disagrees with the values and ideologies that we consider most precious, it can be difficult to extend love and patience to them. It is just so much easier to love the people that share our values—the people that makes us feel good.
Although this is the natural leaning of my evil heart, God’s Word relentlessly puts forth a radically different definition of love. Christian love does not rest on commonality, likability, or beneficiality. Instead, it rests on the unconditional, humble, selfless love of God exemplified in Christ’s atoning work on the cross.
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Ro. 5:6-8).
Despite our sin, rebellion, and hatred for God—“while we were enemies,” verse 10 tells us—Christ died for us. This is the love that we are called to emulate!
Practically, what does this love look like? When building relationships with unbelievers, it is critical to understand how our love for them should and should not be expressed. Love for unbelievers, if we aren’t careful, can often lead to approval of their vices because we love them. However, our heavenly Father is not just loving—He is holy and sinless! His attributes cannot be separated from each other, and our knowledge of God’s holiness should inform our understanding of His love, and vice versa. Because of this, we love others not through blind acceptance, as the world seeks to peddle love, but by an unmerited love that yearns for another’s salvation and repentance. The nature of this love can seem offensive, divisive, and even unloving to the world. But the truth is what is truly divisive: we are all sinners in need of a Savior, and left to our own devices, we stand condemned (Matt. 10:34-39). To love someone biblically is to want the best for them, namely salvation and repentance from sins, not simply worldly happiness and acceptance.
With this understanding of love in mind, however, we also must purpose not to drift too far the other way. We cannot hold unbelievers to the same moral standard that we follow. Works do nothing to make us more acceptable before God—we MUST have Christ’s record accredited to our account. To focus solely on correcting an unbeliever’s bad behavior is to become a Pharisee and to desperately misunderstand the gospel. Instead, our love for unbelievers must radiate from a heart that yearns for their salvation, and our actions should be bathed in this central motivation.
Instead of investing solely in the relationships with people that are familiar to us, let’s reach out to all the lost and hurting people around us. Just like Christ’s, our love cannot be based only on merit, worth, or what makes us happy/benefits us. Take some time today to read and pray through just a few of the key passages that inform our understanding of Christian love:
God’s love for sinners: John 3:16-21; 1 John 4:7-12
Christ’s love for “the least of these”: Mark 2:13-17; Luke 7:36-50
Our call to love others: Matt. 5:43-48; 1 John 4:19-21
THE EVERYDAY HOMEMAKER’S MONTHLY MEDITATION THOUGHT
God’s Word states, “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time. If we say we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.” (1 John 4:11-12)
Therefore, I may boldly say, “I am to live a life that reflects God’s divine love always and unconditionally.”
Blessings on your day as you focus on making your house a home