We only know love because God first extended true love to us.
This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us. [1 John 4:10-12]
On a holiday like today, love is in the air and everyone is quick to declare their love for those that give them love in return. But what about those that are hard to love? Our faith in Jesus challenges us to extend love to all.
Working with homeless men, women and children is not always glamorous, to say the least. In fact, there are often times that it is very thankless. In times like that it might be easy to question why we do what what do in the first place. It would be impossible to extend love to others if we have not first encountered God, who is love. This is why today and every day I prioritize my relationship with God first and foremost. I can only operate from a place of knowing in my own life that I am loved with unconditional love, from the only source that matters. With that truth embedded in my heart, I am able to press on in the work of seeking new life and restoration for the people that we serve at the Orange County Rescue Mission. My ultimate hope is that each and every man, woman and child that come through our doors also encounter this true love of Jesus.
Many may tire of the commercialized holiday that is Valentine’s Day, but today is a day that I am reminded that I must be rooted in the love of my Heavenly Father first to be able to truly see others through His eyes and share His love with even the most difficult people.
We can do all the charitable work in the world and bring every homeless person into a home, but if we do not love them, then our efforts are in vain. Scripture emphasizes this in 1 Corinthians encouraging the work that we do is motivated first by love:
If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it;[a] but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing. [1 Corinthians 13:1-3]
I also challenge you to examine what true love is and what it looks like to love others well, even the most difficult people, maybe even your enemies.