In the Power for Today there was an article entitled, Mind Listing. In it, the author makes this point, “Sometimes, we don’t listen with our mind because we have already decided the answer.” This got me to thinking about this whole idea of learning to love and why it is so important. Let me explain by considering these bible verses that speak about our call to love. I think the most obvious one is found in Luke 10:27, ‘So he answered and said, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’” Then, there is the ever-popular idea of “loving your enemy” (Matthew 5:44), which I brought up on numerous occasions, both in bible class and sermons. You don’t have to be reminded of Jesus’s exhortation of the early disciples to “love one another” (John 13:34). Or there is this one that goes directly to the heart, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word…” (John 14:23). God beckons us to offer to the world and to Him what they desire the most…love.
We love Him because He first loved us. (1st John 4:19)
Okay, I realize that none of this is new: for a matter of fact, been there and “know” that; or do we? Not long ago I was involved in a conversation with someone who battled with the idea that God loves them because they had “already decided the answer.” Many bible verses were shared, none so powerful in my mind at this time than Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Then there is of course 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.” These verses, so commonly used, speak of God’s incredible love for mankind. A love that was present “before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4) when God put together His redemptive plan. The simple, yet profound reality is this, GOD LOVES MANKIND!!! Before we heard the gospel, while still sinners, knowing all we would do, HE LOVES US!!! No amount of work, righteous activity, will increase His love of you. That is the truth of the matter. “Sometimes, we don’t listen with our mind because we have already decided the answer.” Maybe the answer sounds like this, “God can love you, but not me. You don’t know what I have done, how much of a failure I am. Maybe, just maybe, if I work on some things, I can accept that He loves me.” The only problem is, I never seem to get there and so in my mind I doubt His love for me. Such doubt weighs us down, often handcuffing us to our past and impeding any real ability to love God, let alone others. Why? Because you cannot give that which you do not have.
This brings me to the role of faith. Willard Tate writes, “We simply have to want to believe that God loves us. It’s a decision, a choice we make with our will to accept His word when He says in so many places that He loves us.” Any thought in the mind that would seek to argue that fact, needs to be shackled and cast away by the power of His word and the finished work of the cross: Allowing His love, His amazing grace, to free us of any idea that His love is somehow earned or even can be earned. Realizing that my call to love Him and others is anchored in one simple fact, God love ME! Now and always!