Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the Sons of God. –1 John 3:1
We could read the above verse this way, “Behold, what ‘foreign kind’ of love the Father has ‘bestowed’ upon us, that we should be called the Sons of God.”
The word, ‘bestowed’ comes from the Greek word ‘dedoken’ [δέδωκεν-perfect active indicative of dedomai] and is defined as ‘that which is given as a gift; granted or supplied’. This is why the translation ‘foreign kind’ of love is such an apt use of the word bestowed.
The love of God is foreign to us. All though all love comes from God, we must all asked ourselves this question, “Why do we love God?” The short answer is, ‘We love God for Himself’. O, Yes, we love him for what he does for us, healing us, supplying us with joy in living the Christian life, etc., but all these ‘things’ that He does for us, even though we are thankful for them, and are very appreciative of all he does for us, cannot be the real reason why we love God. We love Him for Himself, not for what He does for us. I remember talking to a family member who had started going to church years ago, and I asked her about this. She replied, “I feel better”. As a consequence of her answer, her stint in church did not last very long because her commitment was not based upon a true love for God – it was an existential experience that didn’t last. True love for God is based upon Who He is, not upon what he does for us. Years ago, I was talking to a friend and he was impatient and frustrated. He vented his frustration and then made the querist remark, ‘Oh’, he said, ‘I need to go home and renew my mind!’ What he didn’t realize was, his statement belayed a deeper problem and the reason he was frustrated; He wasn’t getting his way and it disturbed him. The love of God, and yielding to the love of God, is us accepting things God’s way. Paul describes what I mean when he wrote, “Love is patient and kind”. The love of God never boils over with jealousy or is rude, nor unbecoming. The love of God never seeks, selfishly, its own good, but seeks for the good of others. Now what I have just described, in a simple manner, is the actions of the love of God, and just this very simple description of the love of God intimates to us how foreign the love of God is to us, even though, as believers in Christ, we have the love of God in us through the New Birth. The reason we don’t really understand the love of God is due to the fact that we were born in sin and our outward nature has really not been thoroughly dealt with and brought under the subjection of the life and nature of God himself. This is true of all of us. We were all born in sin and, even though, we have received New Birth and have received the life and nature of God in us, we still have not received full redemption yet; we are eagerly waiting for the redemption of our bodies and, when this happens, we will be, as Paul describes, ‘all in all’. But until that time comes, we have to continually ‘keep our body under, bringing it fully into the subjection of Christ, and this process continues throughout one’s lifetime upon the earth. Yielding ourselves to God is yielding ourselves to the love of God.
Bernard of Clairveaux defined the love of God as, that love which is ‘immeasurable’. It stands to reason that if God is immeasurable, then His love would be so too. We can only comprehend the love of God in a measure and that measure depends upon how much of our life we are willing to yield up to God and His love. So, in closing, we have to ask ourselves the question, “How much of my life am I willing to give to God?” Luke recorded something Jesus said in reference to giving when He said, ‘That [in this case, our selves] which we measure out, will be measured back to us’. If we want to experience more of the love of God in our life, or our marriage, then we will have to give more of ourselves to the Lord Jesus. To me, I find the more I yield myself to the Lord Jesus and His love, the more I find myself loving others as I should love them; not loving people for what they do for me, or for what pleasure I receive in their fellowship; but loving them as I interpret how God would love them. And, as imperfect as my expression of the love of God is toward others, this ‘foreign kind’ of love still transcends all other kinds of love experienced by me, and by you. Paul wrote, ‘Love [God’s immeasurable love] works no ill toward its neighbor, therefore, love is fulfilling the Laws of God’. So, let’s begin to love others, even though our effort may be clumsy and imperfect at times, the same way that God loves us. Blessings – PJ