Happy Valentine’s weekend!
Love is in the air — at least I hope it is in your life.We find many sources of love in lovers, in family, in friendships, etc. Those that we truly love we find that it is not a hardship to love them. We are not stingy with our love that can be expressed in many ways. We may express our love by our words, by our actions, by gifts that we give, or by the quality and quantity time spent with them. We may express our love by doing for one another. There are many ways to express our love for one another. For those we truly love, we are not stingy with the love we express.
The Bible also tells us that God loves us. John’s letter to the churches in 1 John 3:1 of the New Testament tells us this truth. “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”
God has poured out his love into our hearts. It was not stingy! Romans 5:8 says, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” And John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His One and Only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”
Recently, we were having dessert with my grandchildren. As the whipped cream was being passed around, I noticed that mounds of whipped cream were being lavished on each dessert plate. Growing up, if we ever had whipped cream on dessert, it was used very sparingly so there was enough to go around. Watching my grandkids, my thought was, this is how God loves us, not sparingly, not stingily, but lavishly, poured out into our lives through Jesus Christ. I am humbled that God would love me like that! His mercy and grace are so abundant with his willingness to have us as children of God.
In turn, out of the love from God that fills us to overflowing, our overflowing love is for God and for one another, our neighbor. The greatest commands of God for each of us is this: Love the lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. And love your neighbor as yourself.
With what kind of love shall I love God? With what kind of love shall I love my neighbor? Not stingily, not sparingly, but lavishly. If I am truly loving as God loves me, I would want to express it with generosity, giving myself to God and giving to serve others. That love begins at home, with those whom we worship, in our neighborhoods, in our community, and beyond.
I find these words of 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, “the love chapter of the Bible,” to guide that kind of generous God-centered love. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
May God fill you with his abundant love that will overflow, not stingily, not sparingly, but generously into the lives of others!
• The Rev. Dan Wiese is pastor of the Church of the Nazarene. “Living & Growing” is a weekly column written by different authors and submitted by local clergy and spiritual leaders.