I remember my first act of sacrifical love. I was young, probably 8 or 9, and my family had taken a trip to the beach. Probably in order to corral us, my parents had us sit inside our hot, sweaty purple van while my mom doled out sandwiches and drinks from a cooler in the back. Mealtime as a member of a family of seven requires a certain amount of hustle. You’ve got to get while the getting is good – you know? On Thanksgiving, grab the whole bowl of mashed potatoes, you may be able to barter for a half-chewed turkey leg down the line…that kind of thing…
On this particular day, I had jockeyed for a position nearest the back of the van both for access to fresh air and so as to better assess the dwindling cooler supplies. As I ogled the last drink, a new thought popped into my head and stirred my normally stone-cold selfish baby heart. I realized that my mother had not had something to drink yet. As I stewed in my thoughts for several minutes, my mother noticed my fixation on the drink. So, she offered it to me, as many a selfless, thirsty mama has done before her.
And I said, ‘No, that’s ok, you can have it’.
Maybe she saw the anguish on my face caused by this great sacrifice or maybe she was just so thrown by me not grabbing at every chance to get something, but she decided to ask me why I didn’t want it.
I said, ‘Well, I noticed you hadn’t had anything to drink yet, so I thought you could have it.”
You better believe that this little baby nugget touched her mama’s heart!
You also better believe that in typical kid fashion, having realized I had done a nice thing, I then proceed to trumpet my selflessness to her and everyone else for the next hour. To the point that she probably wished I had just taken the drink for myself in the first place.
Thus was the beginning of my journey into love. While I’d like to think I’ve grown quite a bit since then in my ability to love well, I’m also more aware than ever of how insufficient my love can be. And as I pursue the kind of love worth giving and receiving, I am humbled by the realization that while my love often falls short, God’s love is perfect.
The Bible says, Theos esti agapē, or, in English, God is love (1 John 4:8; 1 John 4:16).
When the Bible describes God as love, it literally says, He is agapē. In 1 Corinthians 13, agapē love is described. The passage encourages all believers to live with the kind of love that reflects the qualities of agapē love…to love with the kind of love God loves us with….to love with the kind of love that God is.
As much as the scripture here instruct us on the type of love we should seek to have in our hearts and give out, it also tells us about God himself. If He is love, and love is all these things, then we can know that He is all of these things too.
The bible tells us that we serve a patient God, who is kind. His nature is not envious, boastful, or proud. He doesn’t dishonor others. He is selfless, seeking our good to the point of even sacrificing His only son so that we could live forever. He is not quick to anger and in His great mercy, He does not keep a record of all that we’ve done wrong. He delights in the truth. His love protects, and is one of trust and hope. His love endures — never failing, never falling short.
I gave up the last drink in the coolor. God gave up His only begotten Son – to become SIN for us, that we might become the righteousness of God. One baby step toward selflessness for me, the greatest act of love and self-giving in history for God.
Be encouraged today that our God is truly that good, that His love is just that perfect, and it’s absolutely what we need. It engulfs us, crashes over us, and fills us in the deepest parts of our heart and soul. What’s more, God promises that as we live in Him and He lives in us, His Spirit will produce fruit in our lives. The Fruits of the Spirit are many, but listed first among them is love. What am I saying? The more that you fall into Christ and let Him live in you, the more you’re going to reflect God-love, agapē. That’s some good news…