Keeping The Love Alive
1 John 4:19
The American statesman and lawyer William
Jennings Bryan was having his portrait painted when the artist asked why his
subject wore his hair long over his ears. Bryan responded, "There is a romance
connected with it. When I began courting Mrs. Bryan, she objected to the way my
ears stood out. So, to please her, I let my hair grow to cover them." "But that
was many years ago," said the artist. "Why don't you have your hair cut now?"
"Because," Bryan winked, "the romance is still going on!"
It's obvious that the statesman thought of his love for his wife regularly and
made his decisions to correspond to and affirm that love. What about your love
for the Lord? Is the romance still going on?
When most people first come to Christ and are baptized for forgiveness of their
sins, there is an exhilaration in knowing they are part of God's family and
their sins are washed away. Their hearts overflow with love for Him and they
long to please Him in the things they do.
As time passes, however, the zeal cools, the exhilaration wanes, and the flames
of love smolder and die. It's the kind of thing that, though felt inside, is
manifested externally. Prayers drop off because you can't think of anything to
say to God, Bible reading is neglected because you don't think God has anything
to say to you, and worship attendance lapses because you just don't feel like
worshiping Him. As the Righteous Brothers used to croon, you've lost that lovin'
feelin'! The question is, how do you get it back?
First, consider that love to God is a response to His love for us. John writes,
"We love Him, because He first loved us." (1 John 4:19) But how does He love us?
The psalmist writes all about God's love in Psalm 139 although the word "love"
is not mentioned once. David writes that God knows us intimately (vss 1-6), He's
with us everywhere (vss 7-12), He Himself has formed us (vss 13-16), and because
He thinks of our well-being, He provides strength and courage to us in the face
of adversity (vss 17-22).
Consider Psalm 139:1-6. That God knows you even better than you know yourself
ought to be a comfort. Because of His knowledge of you He can best take care of
you and that is personified in Jesus. Though we have been rebellious and sinful,
"God demonstrates His own love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ
died for us." (Rom 5:8) Surely, realizing that God knows us, the good, bad, and
ugly, ought to cause us to respond in love and gratitude for His willingness to
take care of us in spite of us!
In Psalm 139:7-12, David writes that there is no place anywhere that he can
escape the notice of God. The Hebrew writer reminds that "Nothing in all
creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare
before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account." (Heb 4:13) To some, this
may be a frightening thought but it needn't be. Again, John writes, "There is no
fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment,
and the one who fears is not perfected in love." (1 John 4:18) To know that
there is no place we can go and no trouble we can face where God's love and
support cannot reach us should not cause His children to dread but instead to
reply in adoration and devotion.
"How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them!
If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand. When I awake, I am still
with you." David seems amazed that God would take time to include him in His
thoughts. Actually, to know that God thinks of us should knock our socks off as
well! In spite of our propensity toward sin, God has given man a crowning place
in His creation. (Psalm 8:3-8). But even more than that, His thoughts are always
for our good. To ancient Israel God said, "'I know the plans I have for you,'
declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you
hope and a future. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I
will listen to you. You will seek Me and find me when you seek me with all your
heart. I will be found by you,' declares the LORD" (Jer 29:11-14a) Why would we
think that His thoughts toward His children today are any different? When we
consider that God includes us in plans for our ultimate good, it should instill
in us courage against His (and our) enemies, and a stronger desire to stand for
His cause. Truly, we do love Him because He first loved us!
As the sweet psalmist of Israel closes this amazing testimony to the love of
God, he appeals to God to show him if there is anything in him that would
interfere with the loving, provident relationship initiated by his Maker. Such
should be our prayer. "Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my
anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the
everlasting way." (Ps 139:23_24) Keeping His love always before us as David did
will help us to respond in kind and regain that "lovin' feelin'" that expresses
itself in gratitude, courage, and love for one another.
By Zeke Flores
From Expository Files 11.8; August, 2004