God is love.
Ever encounter someone who acted like your friend, yet could never find time to meet for lunch or do something on the weekend? Did a relative claim to love you, but never managed to make it to your birthday parties, or for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or special occasions? Chances are the words of these pretenders rang pretty hollow.
The same is true of those who claim to love God, but seem more interested in judging you, labeling you, or fitting you into their religious stereotypes before they even know you. Don’t get upset. According to John, they don’t know God anyway.
Throughout the fourth chapter of First John, this close follower of Jesus talks about God’s love. John advises observing others closely to see if their actions match their words. In verse 20 he writes, “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen” (NIV). Those are powerful words. For every group that claims to be religious but follows a hateful agenda is biblical evidence they are lying. If they loved as God does, it would show.
However, before you throw stones at someone else for their flaws, think about yourself. How are you demonstrating love? How often do you take your precious time to visit a sick friend in the hospital? Do you mentor a young person from a broken home who needs a confidante? Do you ever serve at a homeless shelter or visit someone in jail? It is much easier to criticize someone whom you find offensive than to admit your shortcomings.
So often, expressing love is a matter of taking the time to think of little things. Like saying, “Thank you” to a store clerk; “You really helped me” to a teacher; or “I appreciate you” to your spouse. This is why prayer can make such a difference in your daily life. As you talk with God, the very essence of love (1 John 4:8 says “God is love,”) he may give you ideas of ways you can show it.
A Challenge For You…
What person or group has offended you in the past? Have you ever talked to that person or a representative of the group to clear up any misunderstandings? This week, make it a point to call or e-mail them. Use loving words.
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