John 15:12-15 This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.
I read this quote from Ann Landers this morning, “Love is friendship that has caught fire. It is quiet understanding, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times. It settles for less than perfection and makes allowances for human weaknesses.” Y’all remember Ann, don’t you? Her birth name was Esther Pauline “Eppie” Lederer, but she was best know by her pen name Ann Landers. She was an American advice columnist whose column ran for more than 47 years and had a reported readership of 90 million people. She gave some pretty good advice over the years, and still everywhere we look, we can find some kind of advice and someone willing to share their advice with us. It may not be good advice, but it’s out there…free for the taking. But this little quote about love has been repeated over and again. It has been read as part of marriage vows. It has been etched in the minds of many, and we have to admit, that it’s a pretty catchy phrase, “love is friendship that has caught fire.”
Love is a word of action. It’s one of the most difficult terms in the world to truly define, and it’s much easier to show love than to define the terminology. If I were asked to define the word love, I would simply have to say, “Jesus”. He is the epidemy of the word love. I don’t know if Ann meant to describe a relationship with Jesus when she wrote this statement, but I think she did a pretty good job here. Consider the words for a moment. “It is a quiet understanding.” We will never understand Jesus fully, but it is in our quiet times with Him that we gain truth and knowledge and understanding of our Lord and Savior. We must dedicate a quiet time each day to devote to Christ, and during that time, He will teach us, grow us, and show us things that we need to know, ways we need to change, and the will that He has for each of us. When we retreat to our quiet place and invite the Lord into that place, we connect with Him on that personal level, and this is where miracles begin to happen.
Love for Jesus gives a mutual confidence. When we accept Jesus as our Savior, we become His, and no one can snatch us out of the hands of God. (John 10:28) Jesus has confidence in the fact that we are His, and we have confidence knowing that He is our Savior! We are promised eternity with Him, and the thought of that should give us confidence to walk through this life with our heads held high. We are loved by a God who sent His Son to die for our sins so that we can have everlasting life with Him. If that isn’t love, I don’t know what is! And we can have confidence that we have an eternal home in heaven. And because of this confidence, we can “come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” (Hebrews 4:16)
Love is about sharing and forgiving. Peeps, I am very thankful that we can share everything with our Lord. Prayer is a wonderful gift from God. He gave us a means to have open communication with Him way before the idea of a smart phone was every created. We can enter His presence any time, day or night, 24/7, and we can share everything in our lives with Him. He desires this kind of relationship. He wants us to share our hearts and to be the Lord of our hearts. And that forgiveness part, y’all, isn’t that the best? There are so many times that we goof up, mess up, fall down, and get off of track, but our loving Father is always there to pick us back up. He forgives the little sins and the great big sins, and then He wipes the slate clean. And He even gave us with the Holy Spirit to convict us and guide us, and show us when we are getting off track. He’s such a good, good God!
Love is about loyalty through good times and bad times. I venture to say that loyalty is a quality that is sorely lacking in this world, but not when it comes to Christ. He is there with us through all of the joys in life…the new births, the weddings, the new job, the newly constructed house. He celebrates with us, and all of the angels rejoice when we accept Christ as our Savior. Oh yes, He is loyal through the good times. But what about those bad times? Where is He then? Oh, my friend, He’s still there. He is there with us through the losses, the deaths, the break ups, and all of life’s battles. Those are the times He is standing there with His arms open just waiting to give us a hug, asking us to cling to Him, and lean on Him with all that we are. It is in those times that we feel His strength and presence when peace envelopes our souls that we can not even venture to explain.
“Love settles for less than perfection and makes allowances for human weakness.” Praise Jesus that He settles for less than perfection and makes allowances for human weakness. Jesus is the only perfect man that walked this earth. We strive for perfection, we try to walk like Him, but we are mere humans. We are not perfect, but guess what? He loves us totally and completely flaws and all. He knows we aren’t perfect, and he allows for our weaknesses. God even designed the greatest means of redemption. We are made right through Christ! “We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.” (Romans 3:22-24) And 2 Corinthians 12:9 assures us, “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” His power is made perfect in our weakness! Praise God!
Can’t you see how much Jesus loves us? The thought of it overwhelms me. His love for us is definitely like a friendship that has caught fire, but the question we need to ask ourselves this morning is, “is our love for Jesus like a friendship that has caught fire?” Has our love for Him been ignited? Are we clinging to Him, sharing with Him, humbly asking forgiveness, and striving for perfection in Christ? My friends, this relationship, the relationship between Christ and us, is the absolute most important relationship in our lives. Why do we put it on the back burner and let it simmer? We need to ignite a fire within each one of us and really get to know our Lord! Ignite the fire within you today!