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The Greatest of These Is Love

June 16th, 2009

“Take in . . the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love.” Ephesians 3:18 The Message

“God chose eternally to love you extravagantly, without measure or requirement.”

My thoughts today are that “the greatest of these is love.”

There are many needs every person has, but none is stronger or more essential to one’s sense of well being than to be and feel loved. The greatest gift of one’s self is to offer real love to another flawed person, not because of anything they have done or not done but just, because you have chosen to love them. Love sets an elevated value on another person higher than they may have thought themselves deserving – and that’s a great feeling for anyone.

Why would anyone struggle to believe they are loved, though assured by God or others? Sometimes an early occurrence of rejection or oversight where a person felt unloved and unwanted can so diminish one’s sense of self worth that they become convinced they were unloved simply because they are unlovely and unlovable and that is unlikely to change, even when told otherwise. Love is not best believed by the words proclaiming love, but by love expressed in grace shown and behavior seen. Love, however great, cannot heal you until you are courageous enough to believe and accept that love being offered you.

Many years ago when I was teaching on love, I felt like the Lord gave me an insight I had not previously understood that was expressed in my heart in these words, “Love to be authentic must be practical and observable.” True love is an act of volition, not emotion. That’s the way that God loves you. God’s love for you is practical and observable.

The love of God is practical enough to provide, protect, and preserve, and is plainly observable in the wonderful plans He has made for you, forever. See Jeremiah 29:11 NIV. God chose eternally to love you extravagantly, without measure or requirement. Love that is consistently observable in practice is a fixed choice, not a transient emotion. Every action and overture God makes toward you is unchangeably consistent with His choice to love you forever.

“For God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not die but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to be its judge, but to be its Savior.” John 3:16-17 Today’s English Version. Bill Gaither wrote a song with these lyrics, “I am loved; I am loved; I can risk loving you. For the One who knows me best loves me most. I am loved; you are loved; won’t you please take my hand. We are free to love each other; we are loved.”

“This is what love is: it is not that we have loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the means by which our sins are forgiven. Dear friends, if this is how God loved us, then we should love one another.” 1 John 4:10-11 Today’s English Version. See Ephesians 3:17-20 NLT/ Romans 8:35-39 NAS.

Being loved embraces the obligation to love others in no lesser way. In Gaither’s words, “I am loved; I can risk loving you!” In life, I have found that loving is well worth the risk, and the rewards are incredible – the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love!

My prayer for you today is: love like your life depends upon it; in many ways, it does.

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