Extravagant Love

love extravagantly

Last week I laid the foundation for the topic today and next week. I talked to you about adopting a Biblical philosophy for living life based on extravagant love and generous living.

Today we’ll dig deeper into the Biblical foundation and practical application of extravagant love and next week we’ll explore what the Bible teaches about generosity as a foundation for living.

The Bible speaks at great length about love and how love is, essentially, an extension of the nature of God. The existence of love is only possible because of God. It is the character of God expressed in mankind. It is the reflection of God in humanity. It is the identity of God which is hardwired into the soul of man.

Listen to what the Bible tells us about love.

1 John 4:7-8
7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

John tells us that loving one another is a manifestation of the nature of God. Because God has created us with the capacity to feel and express love, we understand God more perfectly. The inability to comprehend love renders our understanding of God incomplete because, as John points out, God IS love.

Earlier in this same letter to the church, John described the basis for our understanding of God’s love. 

1 John 3:16-18
16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

He says, here, that we recognize God’s love through the sacrifice He made for our redemption and reconciliation. Since love only exists in the context of relationship (in other words, it takes two; the one loving and the one(s) being loved) then reconciliation is essential. Redemption and reconciliation makes it possible for us to live in a right relationship with God.

Then John applies the model of God’s love to us by declaring that we replicate the love of God by showing love for one another as exemplified by laying down our lives for those we love, just as God laid down His life for us.

Well, that’s extreme, you might say. Absolutely! So John gives us another real-world example of how love works.

17 But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?
18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.

So, John concludes, if we have the means to help and serve one another but we refuse, any profession of love rings hollow. Love is only real when it is accompanied with action.

Paul’s letter to the church in Rome offers yet another perspective on love.

Romans 5:6-8
6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.
7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die.
8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

How many of us are guilty of assessing someone’s worthiness of our love and compassion?

Now I realize we need to exercise wisdom and caution when it comes to when and how much we help someone. On the other hand, we sometimes use this as an excuse to do nothing. It can be difficult to discern the proper action to take, but withholding love is worse than being taken advantage of.

Paul pointed out that before we were ever born, and knowing full well that we would sin and fail God, He still sent His Son into the world to die for us. He extended forgiveness to us before we ever committed our first sin. That’s the extravagance of God’s love. It’s over-the-top, unbelievable, incredible and inconceivable. Yet, our own experience with love teaches us that God’s love is real.

The challenge for us is uncertainty that comes with loving those we don’t know and the conditions we apply when loving those we do know. Unconditional love doesn’t mean we abandon wisdom and reason but it does require us to listen to the voice of God’s Holy Spirit in every situation. Otherwise, we become careless and foolish; even enablers of those whose judgment and self-control are impaired OR we withhold love when it should be expressed.

But, again, it is worse to withhold love than to worry that we are being used.

If we truly and honestly assess ourselves we must admit that there are many times we take advantage of God’s love. We make promises to Him and fail to keep them. We say we love Him then fail to live with love for one another. We are not faultless. Realizing this should help us extend a measure of grace and compassion to those who aren’t so unlike us.

Extravagant love, of course, is sacrificial. Extravagant love goes above and beyond. Extravagant love is more selfless than selfish.

We look to God for the perfect example of extravagant love. Then, as best we are able, we try to emulate Him in the way we love one another.

 

Speak Your Mind

*

...