Reading: 1 John 4:7–12
We face the challenge of recognizing love for what it really is. True godly love is not an emotion or a sentiment, but God’s own being. “God is love” (v. 8).
Love always acts, but it does not excuse, tolerate, or behave in a self-indulgent way. Rather, love forgives, as Jesus does when He becomes the propitiation for our sins. Love doesn’t repress wrongs by sweeping them under the rug. Instead, love blots out sin by covering it, just as Jesus’ blood wiped out the sins of the world in a deluge of mercy. While love is not a mere feeling, it does feel.
Most abjectly, love feels the pain of God’s only Son being sacrificed to save the sinners whom He so dearly loves. That divine love became incarnate in Jesus, who dwells and is always at work in us. In Christ, love becomes a part of us and defines who we are, such that anyone who loves in the way God loves must necessarily be a son of the Father and a brother of Christ. Love is always cruciform, shaping who we are and what we do. Love is as inseparable from who we are as it is inseparable from Christ and His cross. In this is love.
Gracious Father, You have manifested Your love in the giving of Your only-begotten Son to atone for the sins of the world. Grant that we who have been made members of His Body may likewise demonstrate this love in our lives and deeds, so that all would know that we are Your disciples; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Yet work, O Lord, in me
As Thou for me hast wrought;
And let my love the answer be
To grace Thy love has brought. (LSB 452:7)
Timothy Sheridan (Sem IV, CTSFW)