"If You Love Me..."

by Pam Clark

There are many issues that deal with the love of God in the Scriptures. Plainly the Word says in I John 4:19 that “We love Him, because He first loved us.” If that is the case, then that puts God in control, in the driver’s seat. That is a scary thought for many of us. We love to be in control of our own lives. We think that we know what we are doing!

And when we realize that God does seek relationship with us, then that makes us responsible for our response! Babies are cute, but we all know that they have this bent toward evil and selfishness. “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.” Proverbs 22:15 (NIV)

Some of us would like to think that we are perfect children and we would almost believe it if we have parents who never disciplined us. Sometimes people’s idea of discipline is only harshness but that is not necessarily so. The Scriptures say that it is God’s kindness that leads us to repentence, but to also behold the mercy and severity of God. We have a choice in lining up with His love.

So what is this love? I Corinthians 13 defines it as giving, thinking of others before you think of yourself. But there is more to love than this. Jesus said in John 14, “If you love Me, keep My Commandments.” He also said in John 15:13 "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends.”

Jesus also said: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great Commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39)

Now we are getting personal! This takes effort and self discipline! It’s one thing to love God, and another thing to love our neighbor, but we are also to love ourselves so that we might give this love to others and back to God again!

It’s easy to put on an act of saying and showing that we love God and we love people by the things that we do, but when we see ourselves, we can sometimes see a stinking dirty rotten mess, and yet we are commanded to love ourselves and give that love to others. That is offering grace. How do we do this?

We can only do this by forgiving ourselves. Jesus had to address this issue with Peter. He asked him: "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?" It grieved Peter that Jesus would ask him this three times, but Jesus knew that Peter had to receive the forgiveness of betrayal in order to walk as one again with Him.

Jesus desired that. He didn’t just want Peter to be doing a job, He wanted personal relationship. We cannot receive and walk in our own salvation if we do not have the ability to forgive ourselves in light of God’s grace.

Grace says that God loves us before we love Him. Grace says that His love laid down His life for us as His friends! How could we be the friends of God? He is perfect and we are not! The only way is to forgive ourselves and choose to take on His likeness. Repentance is turning around and doing it not only different, but right. So in taking on His likeness, we must believe and obey His Commandments. (There are Ten that He wrote with His own Hand.)

Some of the biggest problems we have in relationships is not forgiving others, but forgiving ourselves! Responses from others can make us think we are not forgiven when in fact God has forgiven us if we have repented. Instead of letting the responses of others become a roadblock to us, we must press on into the lifestyle of God which more often than not will take care of the problem.

Love will do its neighbor no harm. It will seek to restore and repair everywhere it can. Perhaps something has been done that seems irrepairable. God is a Redeemer. Your change in lifestyle can prevent the same thing from happening again to someone else. Walking in this kind of love and light will bring the grace of God on the scene, and the anointing will destroy the yoke in not only the lives of others, but also your own.