We love, because He first loved us.
–1 John 4:19
Mike Bryan was an agnostic journalist who decided to write a book about what was fueling the resurgence of conservative Christianity in our country. As part of his research, he wanted to associate with some conservative Christians, so he enrolled at Criswell College, a Southern Baptist school in Dallas. While he was there, he tried to learn what is at the heart of evangelical Christianity. In his book “Chapter and Verse,” he told about a weekend that he went on a retreat with fellow students. On the way home, the students decided to have a testimony time. Student after student went to the front of the bus, took the microphone, and shared a testimony or a prayer concern. One young lady stood at the front of the bus, looked at Mike, and expressed her heartfelt concern for his salvation. He wrote, “If I ever figure out why that girl was crying for me, someone she hardly knew, I will have arrived at the heart of the Christian faith.”
Love is the heart of the Christian faith. That is why John said in 1 John 4:19, “We love, because He first loved us.” The basis of the Christian faith is that God so loved us that He gave His Son. If we have received that love from God, then it is only natural that we are going to reflect that love to other people as well.
Jesus also said that love is the preeminent thing in the Christian life. When someone asked Him, “Which is the great commandment in the Law?” He answered, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:36-40).
In his book “The Greatest Thing in the World,” Henry Drummond explained that love is the basis for every other commandment God has given. For example, consider the commandment “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3). If you love God with all your heart, then having no other gods is not a problem. Or consider the command “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy” (20:8). If you love God, then you will not have trouble setting aside a day for worship. If you truly love your neighbor as yourself, then you do not have to be told not to kill your neighbor, steal from your neighbor, or take your neighbor’s wife. Love is the basis of every commandment. Love, Drummond said, “is the rule for fulfilling all the other rules.”
The Apostle Paul also believed in the preeminence of love. In Romans 12, Paul said our relationships with others are built on the foundation of love. This week, we are going to talk about extending love to other people.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “True Love Never Waits” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2014.
Mike Bryan, “Chapter and Verse: A Skeptic Revisits Christianity” (New York: Random House, 1991); Henry Drummond, “The Greatest Thing in the World” (Grand Rapids: Revell, 2011), 16.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.