By ANGELA C BOSFIELD PALACIOUS
As we approach Valentine’s Day, we are called to reassess our position on the topic of love. What does it mean to live a life of love?
- Love for God
If God is the one we choose to love first and foremost, then there are activities that will be a matter of lifestyle. Listening and talking to God, enjoying the presence of God and communicating in every manner conceivable, make the activity of prayer a life-enhancing, Spirit-invigorating relationship. Learning about God in the past while being prepared to encounter challenges and receive blessings in the future is what Bible Study offers, along with the experience of forgiveness, salvation, and the assurance of eternal life. Worship is our duty and joy, as we join with angels and archangels and the whole company of heaven in giving praise and thanks to God.
This is Peter’s declaration of love: “Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ he said, ‘you know that I love you.’ Jesus said, ‘Feed my lambs.’ Again Jesus said, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ He answered, ‘Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.’ Jesus said, ‘Take care of my sheep.’ The third time he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ He said, ‘Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said, ‘Feed my sheep.’ “ (John 21:15-17 NIV)
- Love for Others
As our hearts are made tender by continued contact with God, we come to desire the very best for all of our brothers and sisters in the family of God. We work to bring wisdom, healing, and reconciliation so that God’s will can be done and God’s name be praised. Do we have a responsibility to protect each other from danger? Do we have a duty to help each other to aim higher? How do we determine what is detrimental to a people before we learn from hindsight? Are we engaged in prayers, seeking truth on every subject so as to defend any decisions that we make that have generational implications?
In 1 John 3: 16-24 NIV, we are admonished to love others: “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.”
- Love for myself
As we grow in our love for God, our ability to love ourselves also increases. We can now dream God’s dreams and obey God’s instructions with a clear vision of our own potential. We seek God’s guidance to be able to act in our own best interest. Psalm 139:1-7, 13-18 (NIV) celebrates our specialness: “You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?... For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand—when I awake, I am still with you.”
How well do you love your God? How well do you love your country and its people? How well do you love yourself?
• Rev Angela Palacious, a motivational speaker and author of several devotional books, is an Anglican priest. She may be contacted at 393-9000 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.