Reflecting the Love of God

March 1st, 2008

“By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another (Jn. 13:35).”

 Often, because of my frequent travel and ministry throughout the nation, I am asked the question, “What is the word you hear God is saying to the church at this hour?” While it is so that God may be addressing many areas at this season, I do believe there is a strong word of exhortation that He is speaking to the church at large. It is a word for every believer to be “reflectors of God’s love” to a lost and dying world. Never before have people been in greater need of hearing and knowing of God’s unconditional love than now.

So many are hurting and desperately need to have an encounter with the love of God. But how will they hear and how will they know of His great love? The answer to this question should draw the attention and focus of all who bear the name of Christ, for it is we who know Him who are being called upon to demonstrate His love not only to the “lost”, but also to one another. It is unfortunate that many believers are broken within not so much because of external attacks from without the body of Christ, but often because of that which comes from within. Someone once said that “The Christian army is the only army that wounds its own soldiers.” It is appalling, but many times this seems to be the case. If someone is hurting even because of their own sin, they need not be further condemned by words of righteous inquiry, judgement or correction. No, they need an encounter with the love of God! They simply need to be unconditionally loved with no strings attached. If there is need for repentance, that will be the work of the Holy Spirit. It will be unto God and not unto man. It will be a bowing to His altar and not ours. All we must do is to be reflectors of God’s amazing love to one another by allowing the “love of God” to be “shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit”. (Rom. 5:5b) Jesus said that such love would be the unmistakeable, ever defining earmark of anyone who considers himself to be a disciple of Christ. It is the “disciple test” that Jesus Himself invoked when He said, “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another.” (Jn. 13:35)

REFLECTING HIS LOVE THAT HEALS AND RESTORES (Gal. 6:1b)

When people are hurting and broken within, whether it be because of their own transgressions or because of some external attack from without, they in either case desperately need an encounter with the love of God. They need the healing and restoration that only the love of God can bring. But again, how and through whom will it come? The Bible clearly admonishes that we who know God and who consider ourselves “spiritual” are the ones He has commissioned to reflect His redemptive love, even to those who are where they are because of their sin. “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, you who are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness…” (Gal. 6:1b) The word “restore” here in the Greek, means to come alongside with a desire to help, encourage and renew or to with patience, give yourself to bringing someone back to a place of previous spiritual health.

How shall we fulfill such an admonition from the Lord? One of those ways is with our words. The power of our words cannot be underestimated when it comes to restoring another. They can be the gateway to renewed spiritual life and hope or the fruitless underscoring of another’s past failures and defeats. In other words, we can either speak words of life and hope or words of condemnation and death. The call of the Lord is clear on what we must do. Even when we feel led to speak a word of instruction or correction to another the Bible says that we are to “Speak the truth in love…” (Eph. 4:15a) Only an honest scrutiny of our hearts will reveal whether we are operating in the love of God or out of the love of God. If we are to be effective reflectors of His restoring love, we will need to consciously endeavor to “keep ourselves in the love of God” and have a “compassion that makes a difference”. (Jude 21-22)

1) Keeping Yourself in the Love of God: (Jude 21)

The reason the Lord has admonished us to keep ourselves in the love of God is because He knew that in our flesh, it would be so easy for us to slip out of the love of God and become righteously judgemental, particularly toward those who have recurringly fallen into sin. We find ourselves thinking or even saying, “they made the bed they’re sleep ing in, so whatever consequences they face will be their problem and not mine.” Surprisingly, there are many “spiritually gifted” people, even some “church leaders”, who have adopted this graceless hard line approach. Their thinking is that in the end, such a stance will drive one to repentance. They call it “tough love”, but unfortunately it lacks any semblance of the healing ointment of the love of God and of the mercy of God. Consequently, many who do need to repent are driven further from it.

Also, when we lack the love of God in our hearts, no matter how spiritual we or others may think we are, we are nothing in the sight of God. The Apostle Paul said, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I have become as a sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profits me nothing.” (I Co. 13:1-3)

2) Have compassion that makes a difference: (Jude 22)

Secondly, if we are to be agents of God’s love, the Bible says we must have a heart of “compassion” toward those who have fallen. The word “compassion” in this text means far more than merely feeling sorry or sympathetic for another’s state or condition. No, it is when our sorrow for them is so great that we are moved to do something in their behalf. When Jesus encountered the blind men in Matthew 20, the Bible says that He “had compassion on them, and touched their eyes”. (Mt. 20:34) Jesus’ death on the cross was without doubt the ultimate demonstration of true compassion. He not only felt sorry for our sin, but sorry enough to do something in our behalf to forgive our sin. This is the kind of compassion that “makes a difference”, that changes everything, that causes the hopeless to have hope and the unbelieving to believe. This is the compassion that we have been called to bear and reflect to the world and to one another in Jesus’ name!

REFLECTING HIS LOVE THAT FORGIVES AND FORGETS (Phil. 3:13, 14)

Reflecting God’s love and forgiveness toward someone who has offended or hurt us deeply often can be a great spiritual challenge. We find it hard to forgive them especially when they haven’t asked to be forgiven. Yet we know God wants us not only to forgive, but to forget the offenses we have carried in our hearts against them. While this assignment may be difficult and hard to perform, the Bible tells us how we can do it. “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. (Eph. 4:32) In other words, by the same measure God has forgiven you, forgive one another. When we begin to think in those terms and ponder on how much God has forgiven us, we will be overwhelmed with His mercy and will find the awesome grace that only He can give to forgive others.

REFLECTING HIS LOVE THAT REASSURES AND RELEASES (Rom. 5:8a, Rom. 8:39b)

Perhaps the greatest dimension of God’s love that we can reflect to others is the fact that His is a sure and never changing love. It is forever sure because the Bible says that “God commended His love toward us…” or He fixed it in such a way that it can not be altered, adjusted or changed. (Rom. 5:8a) No matter what life may bring, we have the unwavering promise that “Nothing shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 8:39b) The assurance of this truth releases us to move forward with a divine confidence that only the knowledge of His love can bring.

May God help us to be true reflectors of His great love that heals, restores, forgives, forgets, reassures and releases us to be all God wants us to be.

“Jesus said that the love of God would be the unmistakeable, ever defining earmark of anyone who considers himself to be a disciple of Christ.” (Jn. 13:35)

“Jesus’ death of the cross was without doubt the ultimate demonstration of true compassion. Greater love hath no man than this…” (Jn. 15:13a)

- Roger Smets

Posted in Newsletter Article

Comments are closed.