“but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises loving-kindness……….
Jesus Is Love
In last week’s devotion we discussed on how God “delights” in doing His will. God’s will is action oriented and He delights to love, to do justice and to do righteousness. This week’s devotion brings us to God’s attribute of love.
Saint Augustine says that one must be able to decipher the difference between love and lust. Lust, according to Saint Augustine, is overindulgence, but to love and be loved is what he has sought for his entire life (Saint Augustine’s Confessions). Many people today confuse lust with love. Lust may be pleasing to a person for a short time but is never lasting. A person who is driven by lust is never fully satisfied and only wants more. Lust is usually referred to as strong sexual desire or passion but we lust after other things as well. People lust after food, sports, electronics, toys and anything else they view as good, pleasing to the eye and desirable for gaining wisdom (Genesis 3:6). In this sinful world lust typically is characterized by doing things or obtaining things in order to gratify ourselves at the expense of God and others. God defines pure love and His love is our focus.
The word loving-kindness in Jeremiah 9:24 could also be used interchangeably with mercy, compassion or goodness. Greek writers of the New Testament used a more action oriented word that encompassed mercy, compassion and goodness. That word is agape (sounds like ag-ah’-pay) or agapao (sounds like ag-ap-ah’-o). This is the highest form of love. The definition can be summarized as “to will the good of another.” In other words, to want the best for another person, without anything in return, but the joy of making another joyful.
1 John 4:8 says anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. What this verse is saying is that the very being of God is love, agape! God will’s the good of others. Remember we said that God’s attributes do not define God but God defines His attributes. This is perfectly displayed in Jesus Christ. John chapter 13-17 is the record of the discussion of Jesus and His disciples. I don’t know how much revelation Jesus had during His life but He knew He came to die and His hour had come. Even though His hour had come He still loved His disciples. The concern for the apostles at the time was themselves. They reclined around the table and Jesus washed their feet after they had discussed who was to be the greatest in the kingdom. A few conversations later they were concerned that Jesus was going to leave them but Jesus showed them compassion by graciously telling them to stop being troubled because it was better for them that He leaves (John 14:1). In His high priestly prayer Jesus prayed for both the disciples and future believers (John 17). During His betrayal, trial and crucifixion He healed an ear, looked out for His mother and prayed for forgiveness for those who were crucifying Him. Once on the cross He promised the thief deliverance (Luke 23:43). He is the greatest example of always looking out for the best of others! Forsaken by all including His Father but He never stopped loving!
Of course the greatest act of God showing His nature was the cross. 1 Corinthians 5:21, “For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” He took our sin and gave us His righteousness. He took our sin and the punishment it deserves which He did not deserve. Jesus gives us His righteousness with all the rights of a child of God that we do not deserve. God performed everything we needed to be reconciled to Him through Jesus Christ. What an exchange! May the Holy Spirit make you understand this more fully today.
God is the definition of love. He wants the best for you and has gone to great lengths to give it to you in Christ. He gets joy when we you receive His love. When we receive Jesus as Lord we receive God, for Jesus is God. When we receive Jesus we receive love, for Jesus is love!