This week I was going to write about the responsibility of exercising our spiritual freedoms. But God is directing me to share about the promise I have clung to for the last 30 years from Psalms 37, specifically, verse 4 where it says, “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” I thought that meant if I was good enough in His eyes He would give me the desire of my heart (a real husband of my own, someone who would love me unconditionally, challenge me to be all that God had called me to be without feeling threatened by where God was leading me. A partner I could minister to others with.) The reality is that human beings are not perfect and rarely achieve complete devotion to God without becoming “no earthly good.” We are called to be actively involved in the world to let our light shine so that others will realize that the difference in us is our God. I took a closer look at the Hebrew word used in this passage that is translated “delight” and it is “Anag” and it means “to live softly and delicately.” Dictionary.com gives the definition as: to give great pleasure, satisfaction, or enjoyment to; please highly. This is obviously not the meaning that King David intended, I think David meant that we must live carefully and mindfully focused on who God is, and conduct our lives accordingly. The other part of this “the desires of our heart”. Here David uses the Hebrew word “mish’alah” meaning request, petition, and desire. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that to truly understand what our desires are we need to fully understand ourselves completely and honestly. From experience, I can say that this has taken me years/decades, and mostly, that as I near the later years of my life, that each moment I have left should not be wasted on empty and selfish desires. I no longer want a man that will make other women say how lucky I am to have such a gorgeous man in my life; I want a man with a heart for God and people. This is not something I just woke up one morning and realized. It truly has taken the better part of the last 10 years to get to this place of self-understanding. The main things I have been praying for has been a relationship that would bring healing to the both of us involved in it, that our families and friends will be able to clearly see the glory of God and believe that He is real and His promises are reliable, and be healed as well. I don’t know how all this will work out, but God does answer prayers.
16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
19 We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:16-19)
First of all we are talking about ”Agape” love this means to love with affection, good will, benevolence, brotherly love; we could say that this is love that goes beyond our human understanding. The way I learned it years ago is that this is unconditional love. Verse 16 says that it is love that we can rely on and not have to doubt. I know that many who read this have experienced the human kind of love that can’t be trusted or relied on, I have too; but that is not to mean we can’t move beyond our experiences. God has unconditional love for us – there is nothing we can do, believe, or think – that can take that unconditional love away from us. God knows the human condition and limitations that we all face and provided the redemption we needed to learn His way of loving.
Continuing on, the simple phrase God is “agape” love. God is affection, good will, benevolence, and brotherly love. The kind of love everyone can rely on. Going further, we find that we are to live in “agape” love. This is hard for us lowly human beings we are so filled with unlove or false love that many don’t realize they are not living in love. How many times have you heard an unbeliever say that they want nothing to do with the church because it’s filled with hypocrites? We all have heard that. It’s because so many within the church don’t really live love they live tradition or religion. Everyone goes through times when they are going through the proverbial motions of faith and love but not really giving it their full attention. We think, “Oh, God knows I’m not perfect, why should I try so hard?”
Love is made complete or accomplished – add what is yet wanting in order to render a thing full. Love is made complete when it is completely full – I would say overflowing to everyone around us. In character it means to consecrate, fulfill, to make perfect. This is why love refines us to be the very best we can be for ourselves and for those around us.
Love gives us confidence – ultimately, for the day of judgement, but also to be brave and bold to move forward in faith and love. I have a tremendous fear of public speaking and singing in front of others. Yes, those who know me well know I can get very prideful and this fear keeps that in check but it also keeps me from being the vessel God needs me to be to touch the lives of others. However, I still have fear, but when I walk in love I become confident in my abilities and gifts. I also know that I fall tragically short on living agape love toward God when I choose to actively sin even when I know this is wrong, but I have confidence that God understands this and loves me anyway. This gives me the confidence to come before the Holy throne of God with my requests and be fearless in the sight of my failures and His judgement.
“In this world we are Jesus.” We (believers) know we may be the only Jesus someone sees in their lives. This is the call of the Lord to us to go into the world and make believers of others and teach them to carry on the mission to be Jesus to those around them. We can’t do this if we don’t love in the unconditional way of agape love.
So, we come to the focus of this writing – There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. (v. 18) The word fear is the Greek word “phobos” and it means fear, dread, and terror, exceedingly afraid. To get a real feel for what this is take the thing you are most afraid of and multiply that by 100% then you will have an idea what this really means. But agape love takes away that great fear and replaces it with confidence and assurance that you will be victorious over the things you are terrified of. Fear has to do with punishment – “I did something wrong,” ”I am a failure,” …..fill in what it is that you are afraid to be punished for. Being fearful is not condemnation it just means we need to practice agape with ourselves as well as others. Truly, we are our own worst enemies when it comes to being unloving – it is to ourselves we are most unloving with.
In conclusion, “We love because He first loved us.” (v.19) We can only walk in agape because God loved us first and most. He provided a way for us to learn agape love through Jesus and His sacrifice to give us the confidence we can only have in Jesus and agape love.
Bible verses came from the NIV on https://www.biblegateway.com/
How do I say this? Every belief system has human involvement and humans are imperfect and have egos that get in the way of really relating the truth about God and what you believe about him. Each document that was ever written to convey any truth about belief has the stamp of the person who wrote it imbedded in the script. This is also true about the Bible and the people who translated it and decided what would considered canon. Unfortunately, the English language is a poor substitute for the original languages that the Bible was written in. There are few words that can describe shades and depths of meaning to give a true picture of what God was trying to say through the original authors. What I can say is that each person that believes that the Bible is the Word of God is directed by His Holy Spirit, so that person can learn what they need to live a godly and fulfilling life; and, be comforted by knowing that God loves them, provided a way to forgive sin thoroughly, and that there is life after death.
I believe that there was an original sin brought into the world by a naive trusting person being deceived by ultimate evil. I also believe that Jesus came to earth and paid for that sin and all conscious and unconscious sin for all humanity for all time past, present, and future. I believe that original sin was paid for in full 2000 years ago and does not exist today. What exists today is conscious and unconscious sin. This is also paid for, but it is our duty to honor that sacrifice to live in love and peace with everyone around us, and to care for the damage that our kind has done to God’s creation. I believe that each person has to come to a real and personal relationship with the Creator and Jesus to accept the gifts of life and the responsibility to honor that life and to hold it sacred.
I believe that our world is broken and that this brokenness has been brought about by people with a real strong sense of self entitlement, greed, pride, and lack of love. I believe that in America we have walked away from what our founders set out to do – create a nation where people can worship God in any way they choose, and to base our way of life in good morals, and caring for each other. More and more we have children who do not hold to belief in any higher power God or otherwise, who treat others as if they don’t matter and are just a way to the end they want. They have no respect for anyone not even themselves. We see this in their actions, dress, and lack of work ethic.
How do we change this? First, we must address ourselves and do what we need to do to live as an example to others specifically our families. We change one person, one family, one neighborhood, one community, one state, one country at a time until we have a world of peace. Do I have hope that this will ever become a true reality – not without people committed to love and accept everyone they meet.
Mark 12:28ff describes the bottom line for believers well:
28 And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?”29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32 And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him.33 And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions.
Summation – Love God, Love People. I would add Love the Planet.