The Joy of Love

LifeLink Devotional

Friday, March 9, 2018

Philippians 1:9  9And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more…

2 John 1:5 – 6   I ask that we love one another.  6And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.

Last month, American’s spent 19.6 billion dollars on Valentine’s Day. The average American spent $89 on the person they love. I was way below that average. The danger is that some of you will question the love I have for my wife based on that fact. However, it is not the amount that is spent that determines the level of love, but rather it is the motive of the giver that validates or taints the expression of love.  In the best-case scenario, the gifts are well thought out and have been planned for days or even weeks in advance. These gifts are the expression of true love that considers the other person first with no thought for the return benefit. The giver of the gift is stating clearly, “No matter what happens in life or regardless of your response, I will love you and give myself for you because you have captured my heart. Nothing in life can separate me from you.”

But other gifts are designed to elicit a certain response from the recipient, and in varying degrees are manipulative and self-serving. The giver has planned a gift that they know will be meaningful to the recipient, but the purpose of the gift is to have a reciprocation that makes them feel loved. In their mind they are saying, “I know this will make you express your love to me so that I can feel like a valentine to someone.”

Still others are caught scrambling to find that last minute card or gift in an attempt to avoid the appearance of not caring, when in fact the lack of planning to express love proves the self-centered nature of the gift. This person is saying to himself, “Oh no! I had better find something good to cover up for the reality that I didn’t care enough to plan this out. If I can find just the right thing she will never have to know that other events in my life were more important than her.”

You will notice the intentional use of the male personal pronouns in the last example, because my informed guess is that men fall into this category far more than women do. But to be fair, selfishness affects us all. But it has never affected God. His gift of love to us in the person of Jesus Christ was planned before the foundations of the world. Read with joy the following passage from the heart of God:

Ephesians 1:3 – 8 (NIV) 3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.  4For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.  7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.

He gave His gift with no strings attached and no need for reciprocation. John 3:16 quotes Jesus when He says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  God’s gift was an expression of His heart and His unconditional love. Paul says in Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

God’s perfect gift of love makes the experience of real love possible. And now that we know God’s love, we are filled with joy when we share His love in relationship with others.

So today, love others in such a way that it is an accurate expression of God’s love – unselfish, undemanding, and with no need for reciprocity. Let your actions towards others show a commitment to loving them regardless of their response. Let God’s love be lavished on that person just as it was lavished on you by Jesus Christ. You will become the joy of someone’s life.

Pastor John