Loving like my Father

The ground rule remains consistent: whenever in doubt, choose love. Love is always the answer. Love is the way. Love is the only way. The closer my Father draws me near, the more He lays bare this simple truth -He distills all our options to just one -Love. God’s word provides for nothing else but to love. Vengeance is not ours but the Lord’s (Romans 12:19); this leaves us nothing but to love. We are told not to let our anger lead us to sin (Ephesians 4:26), that leaves us nothing but to love. For every negative emotion we could have, God’s word tells us to abandon it for love, for love is the perfect law of liberty.

The more my Father reveals to me how He sees me, the more urgent the imperative to become who He says I am. The closer He draws me near to Him, the more acutely aware I become of just how imperfect my love for Him and for others is. My whole life, I ask myself this question each night when I go to sleep, “Have I loved you well today?” It’s mental question I ask of my loved ones silently. More often than not, I’ve been able to answer in the affirmative. But the more I understand my Father’s definition of love, the more I’m beginning to realize just how often I should have been answering in the negative. 1 Cor. 13:4-7 states that ‘Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.’ In the light of God’s word and His definition of love, I haven’t loved well at all. My version of loving pales sharply in comparison to how my father says I should love.

Quoting the Old Testament in Matt 22:37-40, Jesus summed up the Law of Love like this: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. Love is the perfect law of freedom because it encompasses all other commandments. Love is the perfect law. Love is the royal law. Love is the kingly law. It’s perfect because it includes all other laws. If we love, we are obeying ALL other laws. That we love is not a choice, it’s not a recommendation, nor is it a suggestion; it’s a commandment. If our love were to depend on how we feel, then we will only love conditionally and unreliably. Yet God’s love is not conditional. God’s love is a decision, a commandment, a commitment, a covenant love.

In His 2000 message titled “Love”, Derek Prince teaches “Love is the perfect law of liberty, the perfect law of freedom. Why? Because nobody can stop you loving. If you’ve made up your mind to love, nobody can stop you. They can say all sorts of bad things about you, they can treat you in a very mean and miserable way, but they cannot stop you loving. That’s why it’s the perfect law of liberty. In other words, who is totally free? The person who loves. Nobody can stop them. Jesus is the perfect example of this. They did everything to him, they nailed his hands and his feet to the cross, they put a crown of thorns on his head, they gave him vinegar to drink, they abused him, they reviled him, but the one thing they could not do was stop him from loving. If you live with that kind of love, nobody can stop you. It’s the perfect law of liberty and you’re the only really free person on earth because nobody can stop you doing what you want to do, nobody can stop you loving like you’ve determined to do.”

Love covers a multitude of sins. In 1 Peter 4:8 Jesus tells us ‘above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.’ If we loved perfectly, this is how we would love., covering each other’s sins, loving inspite of. And we sure have miles to go. Prince preaches that as humans we are in many ways selfish and self-centered, caring for ‘me & me’ first. One sure way to be frustrated is to have the selfish love of self , to be self-seeking and self-centered. We cannot be self-centered without being frustrated coz there’s nothing in self that will ultimately give us satisfaction. I know this version of love well; I’ve practiced it for a long time. Yet we are to love the way Jesus loves us, an unselfish love, self-giving seeking-first the good of others.

Perfect love dispels fear. There is no fear in love for perfect love drives out all fear. The one who fears is not made perfect in love (1 John 4:18). Loving perfectly thrives in the context of relationships and requires vulnerability. We cannot close up and go into self-protective mode. No one has hurt us too much that we cannot love them, for we ourselves have been loved perfectly by our Father even when we didn’t deserve it. God demonstrates His own love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). And if we only love those that love us, what reward will we get? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much (Matt 3:46). In other words, our standard of loving should be so much higher. We must love the undeserving, the unlovable, we must love those that have hurt us, those that dislike us, those that insult us; love is the only way.

With the tough year I’ve had, I could be polite, quiet and detached with people at work; the professional equivalent of the silent treatment. Then my Father’s spirit will whisper to me that the joy of the Lord is my strength and I’ll straighten up and display the joy of the Lord, my smile made radiant by Him. They will know we are Christians by our love. ‘A new commandment I give you, that you love one another as I have loved you. By this, all will know that you are my disciples’ (John 13:34-35). I see their light now, those that walk in communion with the Father. I’ll spot them at work, in a store… I recognize them now, they usually have a radiance about them. ‘Those who look to Him are radiant’ (Psalm 34:5); the joy of the Lord is their strength (Nehemiah 8:10).

Philippians 2: ‘Therefore, if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus. Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation. Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.’ They will know we are Christians by our love.

My Father has been drawing me closer this year and as much as I’ve made strides in loving like His word tells me to, I can also see how imperfectly I have loved in the past, sometimes indifferently and other times even apathetically. I haven’t served well yet God’s love is firmly grounded in serving others. I have miles to go as even now, my initial instinct is still to respond conditionally. Then His spirit will whisper to me and I’ll have to purposefully and deliberately catch myself so I can respond like God’s word says to respond; upon which I might have to recall a text, send an apology, choose silence, basically repay evil with good, give a blessing for an insult, put on a smile and just generally follow His word and do the right thing by turning the other cheek. I look forward to when blessings-for-an-insult responses will be a natural automatic reflex and I can walk with my Father in consistent radiance; I am confident that He who began a good work in me will bring it to completion (Phil 1:6).

We love because the Father loves us. We cannot love apart from God’s love; He pours into us so we can pour out to others -they will know we are Christians by our love. ‘We can revolutionize a whole situation by demonstrating the love of God. There are people that desperately need to be loved. They are lonely. They are not cared for. They have no answers. They are desperate. And they are not very far from where we live; they are all around us. Loving is the purpose of my Father, it’s what He expects of us, it’s what he’s waiting for from us. His love is not an emotional love as that is finicky; my Father’s kind of love goes deeper than superficial emotions. God’s love is not an emotion but a decision. Davis said in Psalm 18:1 I will love you oh Lord. Like David, we too must determine to love the Lord without condition. I have determined I will love the Lord with all of my heart, with everything that I have, I will hold nothing back, whatever He asks me to do I will do. He has done everything for me, the least I can do is love Him. It may be costly but it is definitely worth it’ (Prince). Loving is the only way. Love never fails (1Cor.1:8).

All pics taken by London Fashion Week Photographer Sonya Meltzer in Kensington London – June 2019

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