Somehow, in our society, we grow up believing that love just happens. We expect to know how to love, in much the same way that we instinctively know how to breathe. Love, we think, is supposed to be easy, comfortable, cozy, and full of ecstasy. No one ever tells us that TO LOVE IS HARD.
We learn how to love by being loved and in various families, people love in different ways. Sad to say, many people grow up never having known what it means to be loved; and they simply do not know how to give love or how to receive it.
God is love. He loves every one of us unconditionally, and He loves every single one of us equally. He is the source of love. He is the only one who can teach us how to love Him, how to love ourselves, and how to love others.
Loving is part of THE JOY OF CHRIST MY LIFE.
In Philippians1:8, we may look into the mind of Paul and begin to learn about how to love. Here, Paul refers to his relationship with the Philippians:
"For God is my witness how I long for and pursue you all with love, with the affection of Jesus Christ Himself."
The Greek word Paul uses here that is translated, "long for" or "pursue" is a word that means "to strain to reach". It is a word that would be used of an athlete as he nears a finish line. It appears that victory is within his grasp, but just at that moment, he hears the footfall of another contestant coming up behind him. So he strains forward, using every fiber of his being in the pursuit of his goal. When he crosses the finish line, he collapses; all of his energy has been spent, every last bit of it. It is this word that Paul uses concerning his love for the Philippians.
As Dr. Dwight Pentecost, a distinguished theologian from Dallas Theological Seminary, translates this verse it would read, "It is written in the records of heaven how I am reaching out to enfold you in love with every ounce of strength that I have." Paul is saying - I long to bridge the gap between us. I strive with all that is within me to be an open channel of God's love. Dr. Pentecost points out, "This is not natural affection."
Here we see the LOVE OF CHRIST, the heart of Christ, being revealed in the Apostle Paul. Christ is using him as the vehicle through which He loves His own. PAUL HAS BECOME A CHANNEL OF GOD'S LOVE to the Philippians and he makes it very clear that this is no easy task.
Paul expounds more on this topic in Ephesians 3:14-21:
"For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that YOU, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen."
If an individual is to know anything of the love of Christ, he experiences it through the love of Christ manifested through one of His own. When our Lord said to His disciples, "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:35), He was indicating not only the sign by which believers would be identified, but also THE CHANNEL THROUGH WHICH HE WOULD MANIFEST HIS LOVE TO THE WORLD. Contemplate your own life and who it was that exhibited the love and grace of God to you. Thank God for those who loved you as Paul loved the Philippians.
God's plan for every one of our lives is that WE become an expression of HIS LOVE to others, even and especially those who are hard to love. Now, ponder . . . Who will be the channel for God's love to your family? Who will be a demonstration of God's love to your husband? Who will show your children the love of God? Your friends? Your church? They need to see it lived out, day by day in and through you.
The one infallible sign of the Bondservant of Jesus Christ is LOVE. The channel of God's love... YOU, one of His own.
Is there a relationship in your life through which you identify with Paul's feelings? A love was placed in your heart by Jesus Christ Himself, yet something has brought about separation. The closeness is not there and you miss it. You long for it. You pursue it, or perhaps you have almost given up the pursuit.
Remember, the most important thing in this world is not to BE LOVED. The most important thing by far is to be able TO LOVE, and only through the power of the Holy Spirit are we enabled to be a channel of God's love to others.
"Lord, give me strength to love, to remain an open channel for your love, not because objects of my love are lovable ... not because of who they are, but because of who I am ... IN CHRIST!