Valentine’s Day is tomorrow, and love is in the air! Do you remember your first love? Thinking of our first love transports many of us back to middle or high school. Emotions and feelings we couldn’t quite identify began to surface. Having taught these grade levels, I learned to identify these affections brewing in my students. It’s hard to explain but easy to see! Something special was happening.
As we all know, this type of love can be fickle and fleeting, unlike the love God has for us. Do you remember when you first asked Jesus into your heart? Do you remember how you felt? You may have experienced an overwhelming sense of emotion as the acknowledgement of God’s love fell on you. Maybe you felt relief as God’s love freed you of your guilt and shame. Perhaps you can’t remember the emotion you felt, but you recall feeling changed.
Paul reveals in Romans 5:5, “…God’s love has been abundantly poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Paul was emphasizing that every true believer has a deep awareness of God’s love, but that isn’t all. Not only do we acknowledge God’s love, but we also get to experience His love freely as it floods our hearts through the Holy Spirit. God’s love is the foundation of our relationship with Him. Relationships are not one way. We know God’s love remains constant. After all, the Bible says God IS love, but we have a part to play, too. We have to remain in His love. We have to hold onto our first love.
So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 1 John 4:16
Is it possible to lose God’s love? No…but it is possible for us to forget what it was like when we first came to Jesus. The overwhelming sense of love for what Christ did for us thorough His salvation settles in, and if we are not careful, we can start to take it for granted. We can lose our first love. This was true of the church of Ephesus.
But I have this [charge] against you, that you have left your first love [you have lost the depth of love that you first had for Me]. Revelation 2:4 For the believers in Ephesus, love had taken a backseat to duty. They had replaced their top priority of loving Jesus with a focus on the lists of things they knew they had to do. God doesn’t want us to serve out of duty or guilt but out of love. Sometimes our love (not God’s) needs rekindled. I think the easiest way to do this is to remind ourselves of what God’s love actually is.
Before proceeding further, let me offer this quick disclaimer. Any attempt to fully define God’s love will fall short. It’s difficult to wrap our minds around God‘s love because the only way we can try to understand God‘s love is from a human perspective. The Bible tells us His love is beyond our comprehension (Isaiah 55:8-9). Nevertheless, if we can begin to grasp even a fraction of the reality of God’s love for us, we will never want to leave our first love again!
God’s love is HOLY. God’s holiness is where we must start. To say the Lord is holy is to say He is completely set apart; God is unique, and not like any other. He is perfect, pure, and without any hint of evil (Psalm 40:5, I Samuel 2:2, Hebrews 6:18). Because He is holy, His love toward us is flawless and foolproof. Unlike young lovers, God’s perfect love is not temperamental and unpredictable but promised and guaranteed to those who believe (Ephesians 2:4-5).
God’s love is JUST.
A holy God cannot tolerate sin and wickedness. In fact, the Bible says He hates it (Psalm 5:4–6; 11:5). No one really likes to talk about this aspect of love, but it isn’t a foreign concept to us. As educators, we are constantly establishing rules and holding our students accountable for compliance. Why do we do this? We do so because we know it is in their best interest. We do so because we love them. Proverbs 3:11-12 encourages us to not reject or take lightly God’s discipline. Why? The Lord loves those He corrects. God loves us enough to admonish us when we sin. He loves us enough to alter our circumstances and draw us to Himself. Although we will never be perfect, God called us to be holy, which is virtually impossible without His discipline (Hebrews 12:5–11).
But like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves in all your conduct [be set apart from the world by your godly character and moral courage]; because it is written, “You shall be holy (set apart), for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:15-16.
God’s love is COMPLETE. God’s love for us is complete, lacking nothing. His love is all we need to save us and keep us in His care (Deuteronomy 7:9). God’s love is comprehensive and finds expression in everything He says and does. J.I. Packer says, “Every single thing that happens to us expresses God’s love to us for the furthering of God’s purpose for us.” (1) Wow! I guess this sums up Romans 8:28. “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”
Take a moment and think about how God expresses His complete love for us.
· His grace equips us.
· His power protects us.
· His wisdom directs us.
· His goodness comforts us.
· His mercy pardons us.
· His SON delivers us.
THIS IS WHAT GOD DOES FOR THOSE HE LOVES!
“First love” always implies passion. Never forget—God is passionate for you! God is all in. His love is holy, just, and complete! If that isn’t enough to rekindle our love, I don’t know what is! We all would probably benefit from asking ourselves, “Is my life characterized by a passionate acceptance and pursuit of an intimate relationship with Christ?”
Pray this prayer with me.
Dearest Heavenly Father,
I know you love me, Lord. Help me to embrace your love, cherish your love, and accept your love. You don’t love me because of what I do or who I am. You love me because of who you are. I am grateful your love is holy, just, and complete. Forgive me Lord for losing sight of my first love. Your love is all I need. Thank you for flooding my heart with your love through the Holy Spirit. May my words and deeds be a reflection of my love for you. I love you, Lord!
In Jesus name,
May this Valentine’s Day take on a special meaning for all of us as we return to our first love.
Happy Valentine’s Day! No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:37-39
(1) J.I. Packer, Knowing God (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press), p. 122