Let’s talk about love ba-by, let’s talk about you and... Hold up. What kind of devotion do you think this is? I’m just joking around, but I do want to chat about love today. The love of God. 

This morning I jumped into my study time and landed in the book of 1 John. I’ve been battling slightly with what I’m about to share with you, so as I’m encouraging you, know that I’m encouraging myself most of all. Often I wonder why God allows me to write about the things I struggle with. I certainly have not mastered some of this stuff but here I am preaching to others. Truth is, encouraging you through my weakness strengthens me. When I take time to study and dig into God’s word for you, it teaches me. I am not a perfect human being, so please never assume I have it all together because I do not. What I do have is Jesus and through Him, His love, His grace, and His forgiveness, I can move forward. It’s in my weaknesses I am made strong through Christ (2 Corinthians 12:9-11) . And while life without weakness sounds glorious, I’m grateful for the power Jesus brings and works in and through my life.

Lately I’ve been struggling with a slight root of bitterness that is working extremely hard to well up inside of me. I don’t want bitterness to grow, I don’t want to feel how I feel, but every day it nags at me — like a gnat in my face on a hot summer day. Annoying! I’m listening for the whispers of God to direct my steps, to soften my heart, and to keep my humble and kind. I understand that LOVE is the evidence of God in my life and I can’t show love if I’m overwhelmed by bitterness. That’s where ol’ Johnny Boy (AKA John) comes in. 

“Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his one and only Son into the world so that we might live through him. Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God. If we love one another, God remains in us and his love is made complete in us.” (1 John 4:7-12 (CSB)

Not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Mic drop! My toes were hammered when I read that verse. God loves me, He loves YOU despite our sin, despite our imperfections and mistakes. He loves us even though we don’t deserve it. What a good God. Am I right? You don’t have to DO anything to deserve it, it just IS. But can I flip the script on you for a moment? Scripture also says “the one who does not love does not know God, because God is love. God has loved you despite who you are. He loves you because He sees who He made you to be. And according to scripture we have the same duty toward our neighbor. I have the same duty despite how I feel, if I agree or disagree with my neighbor, and whether or not my neighbor is lovable. It’s by the love we have for one another that proves if God remains inside of me, inside of you. 

If God remains inside of me, bitterness has no place in my heart. When I fill my heart full of God’s love, it can’t help but overflow onto everything and everyone around me. Friend, bitterness will poison your soul, but a soul full of Jesus will experience love everlasting. 

Downs serves as a young adult/college leader at her church with her husband. She writes faith-based columns in Southern Missouri newspapers. 

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