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December 15, 2023

Where Our Love Is Tested

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

–1 John 4:7-8

The Bible says the test of whether we truly belong to Christ is the love we have for one another. Are you patient toward other people? Are you kind toward other people, giving them what they really need instead of what they deserve?

There are two places in which the authenticity of our love is demonstrated. The first test tube is the home. How we treat family members is a great indication of whether we truly understand what it means to love. How do you treat the people in your home? Do you blow up at them constantly? Are you always trying to get something from them? When those family members hurt you, wrong you, or betray you, do you respond by giving them what they deserve or what they need?

The second test tube of our love for other people is the church. How we treat other believers is a great indication of whether we know what it means to love others with that agape, self-sacrificing love.

Let’s face it: it is not easy to get along with everybody in the church. Let me illustrate it for you by returning to my dogsled analogy from earlier this week. It is not easy to be harnessed together with other Christians, because unless you are one of the lead dogs, neither the view nor the smell is very good. In the church, you are going to be mistreated by people; you are going to be wronged by people; you are going to be irritated with people. But true love, the Christ-honoring kind of love, means giving people what they need rather than what they deserve. It means looking out for the needs of others rather than our own needs.

In an interview some years ago, writer Anne Lamott made a great statement about love. She credited a Jesuit friend of hers with this observation: “You can tell that you created God in your own image when he hates all the same people that you do.”

I am also reminded of a quote from Father Hugo: “We love God as much as the one we love least.” Isn’t that what the Bible says about our love for one another? As the apostle John wrote in 1 John 4:7-8, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”

Today’s devotion is excerpted from “What the Church Needs Now” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2012.

Anne Lamott, interview by Kim Lawton, PBS, February 17, 2006, https://www.pbs.org/wnet/religionandethics/2006/02/17/february-17-2006-anne-lamott-extended-interview/3636/; John Hugo, as quoted in Dorothy Day, “On Pilgrimage,” ed. Robert Ellsberg (New York: Orbis, 2022), October-November 1973: Fall Appeal.

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.

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