22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV)
In Galatians 5:22-23, the Apostle Paul lists the characteristics that become evident when we allow the Spirit to control us rather than the flesh. The first characteristic Paul lists is love. Love is the great connector. It connects us to God and to others. Love must be present in us if we are to love others. If we are missing the love of God, it is difficult to view ourselves in the way the Lord sees us.
Love can be described as a profoundly tender, passionate affection toward another person. Love is a deep affection for someone. God has a deep, passionate, tender affection for us. We are called to love others with a love similar to how we love ourselves.
As an addict, my addictions wove their way into all my loves. My understanding of love was misconstrued and focused on the wrong things. This can happen to all of us. We put our love in things that bind us—like that next promotion, buying that new car, getting our kids into the best school—instead of being free to love unconditionally without bondage. Twisted love punishes us because we aren’t perfect enough and recalls all the ways we have failed or reminds us of the numerous mistakes we’ve made, thus becoming unworthy of love. Rather than resting in God, our love becomes dependent on outside things to affirm our value and worth. Unhealthy love robs us of our dignity and self-respect.
The idea is that when we are healthy in mind, body, and soul we know how to love ourselves and thus know how to love others. It’s hard to love others if we don’t love ourselves. It’s difficult to love others in a godly way if we ourselves don’t know the love of God or how to love God.
God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
1 John 4:16b (ESV)
We are created in the image of God. In Scripture, God Himself is described as the very essence of love. God demonstrated His deep, passionate love for us by willingly offering His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our iniquities and waywardness. In the same way, we should strive to model God’s love in our interaction with others. That starts with letting God in our hearts and allowing Him to shower us with His love so that we can learn to love ourselves and therefore demonstrate that love toward others.
37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
Matthew 22:37-39 (ESV)
Father God help me love others the way You have loved me. Help me grow a healthy self-image so that I am free to love others in a way that honors You and brings You praise. Father God, I thank you for the love you showered upon me through the atoning sacrifice of Your beloved Son, Jesus. May your Spirit continue to teach me how to love You and others with a deep, passionate affection. Amen.
The Devotional Guy™