Enlarge my heart

Enlarge my heart

Jesus said, “Love one another. By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” If we wish to understand his command, we need to know what it means to love. For that, we need to look at God’s love for us. That is why Jesus said, “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13.34-35)

When you were in catechism class you learned that grace is God’s undeserved love. If we wish to expand on that a little bit, we could put it this way: grace is love that has its source solely in the subject--the one who loves, and not in the object--the one who is loved. 

Think about that for a moment. That means that there isn’t any “because” when it comes to God’s love for me. God doesn’t look at me at say, “Oh, now there’s someone to love. Who wouldn’t love someone as good and nice and wonderful as him or her?” Not at all. There is nothing in me, no reason whatsoever, for God to love me. None at all. In fact, it should be just the opposite. God should look at me and see every reason to hate me. Because God hates sin, and I’m a sinner, a rebel and transgressor from birth. 

But along comes grace. God loves me simply because he does and not because I deserve it. His love for me spurs him into motion, sending his Son to suffer and die for me and to rise again from the dead. His love for me means that he arranged all the details of my life so that a little water would touch my head and, connected to God’s Word, would give me the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation. He has seen to it that I continue to hear his Word and listen to his voice. He feeds me with Christ’s body and blood. All of which he does not because I deserve it, but because of his grace.

We, of course, could never possibly be as loving and gracious as God. But Jesus does command us to love as he loved us. That means that our love isn’t supposed to be conditional and based on finding something in another person that is worthy of our love. Instead, we are to love unconditionally. We are to love not because the other person deserves it, but especially because they don’t. 

Try that kind of love on with the people in your life. Your spouse doesn’t always deserve your love. Nor do your children or your siblings or your friends. But you love them simply because that’s what you do. Or, perhaps, simply because that is who you are. You are loved by God, and so you love as he loved you.