Trinity and Selfless Love
A friend once gave me an exercise: “Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, and replace the word love with your name, and then rank yourself in each characteristic of love. And then, replace the word love with Jesus and rank Him.” I went home, opened my Bible and began. I got to the “p” in patient and realized where this was heading. The bad news was that I failed, and the good news was that Jesus passed with flying colors.
As Christ followers, we are commanded to love God and others. We’re commanded to do something we cannot do on our own. I’m reminded frequently of this in how I so easily try to love others in my own strength. I try to produce something in myself that is only produced as we trust and abide in Jesus. I quickly become weary, exhausted, frustrated, and discouraged as I attempt to show this type of love apart from the overflow of my relationship with Christ.
We cannot love like this until we understand, accept, and believe that WE were and are loved like this first (1 John 4:19). At our worst, God loved us, selflessly, sacrificially, and at the highest cost to Himself (Romans 5:8, Philippians 2:5-8). It’s only out of our intimate relationship with Him that the fruit of His Spirit is produced in us, which enables and outwardly propels us to love others in His strength, because God’s love is always OTHERS focused not SELF focused (James 1:22, 1 John 3:18).
Through God’s pursuit of us, we have many examples of what this love looks like. It’s not defined or modeled as merely a feeling, but primarily as continual selfless action towards us. God did not feel strong feelings for us yet leave us in our sin.
- God SENT (1 John 4:9-10)
- God GAVE (John 3:16)
- Christ ENDURED (Hebrews 12:2)
- Christ SUFFERED (1 Peter 3:18)
- Christ PAYED (Galatians 3:13)
- God FORGAVE (Ephesians 4:32)
- Christ RECONCILED (Colossians 1:22)
- Christ will MAKE ALL THINGS NEW (Revelation 21:5)
We have been filled with God’s love, through the free gift of the Spirit that has been poured into our hearts, abides in us, and that love is purposed to continually flow out towards others. (Romans 5:5, 1 John 4:13)
We can have peace in knowing our ability to love flows from our intimate relationship with the Triune God. We’re never the source of this love for others and they’re never the source for us.