Dear fellow disciple-maker,
It's always fun to get a card, candy or flowers on Valentine's Day. The gift is usually from someone special and it lets you know that he or she cares for you. Most people connect Valentine's Day with some form of romantic love. By contrast, in the Bible God's love is gracious, merciful, slow to anger, faithful, and abundantly generous.
God's love is best understood in the Cross of Christ. God loved us before we loved him. God's love is revealed by his willingness to send his only Son to die for us. His love came at an immeasurable cost. It took a selfless, generous and compassionate heart to love people who are sinful by nature and choice. The good news about God's love is the hope it gives to all sinners. God demonstrated his own love for us in this: while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).
It required amazing grace for our Father in heaven to sacrifice his Son. Through the undeserved grace of God, we are saved from our sins and the Spirit of Jesus enters our hearts. Here are three ways that Jesus works Himself and his love into our hearts.
The Spirit of Jesus provides the grace to accept people as they are, not as they should be. This is the way Jesus loved people. He did not require them to earn his love by first cleaning up their lives. The Scriptures instruct us to follow Christ's example. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you (Romans 15:7).
The Spirit of Jesus provides the grace to forgive people. Forgiveness is a deep part of God's nature and probably the hardest Christian virtue to learn. Forgiveness is more than a feeling. It does not keep score. It does not hold what someone did against them. It is a magnanimous spirit that lets the past be the past. Bitterness builds walls. Forgiveness builds bridges. Only Jesus can enable us to forgive like he does. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you (Ephesians 4:32).
The Spirit of Jesus provides the grace to restore people and give them hope. When people fail they need help to rebuild their broken world. Their faith, marriage, family, career, reputation, etc., may be in total disarray. People in this condition need to know that there is hope. Jesus compassionately offers hope.
When Peter denied even knowing Jesus, we can only imagine how much regret he felt. Out of a gracious heart, Jesus reassured Peter that he was not done working in and through him. Thankfully, he is not done working with us either. Despite our personal failures, God's grace provides hope. Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently (Galatians 6:1).
Let us love one another for love comes from God (I John 4:7). This is the kind of love people are longing to see and experience.
Author:Paul Schlieker www.bible-study-lesson-plans.com
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