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Lines By Lee: God Is Love


February 14, 2019

Last week I approached a woman. When she saw me she said, "You look wonderful." Of course I liked the sound of that. Then she added, "I love you." I was not expecting that! She was not my wife.

Hopefully you are still reading. The lady with the kind words was a patient of mine. On a few previous occasions we had good conversations, but typically she is too tired or weak to talk. One time when I told her I was the chaplain she simply said, "I am Lutheran," and closed her eyes. I guess I don't look like a Lutheran.

Some of the readers of this column know me personally. Those who do may assume that the lady has dementia since she said I look wonderful. Others may think she told me loves me because I have had an impact in her life and she respects me as clergy. However, I don't think she remembered who I was. For the record, she does not have dementia. Maybe I looked half decent that day! Soon after her statements she asked me if I love her. I assured her that I did, and that is the reason that I visit her. Of course I told her that God loves her. As she nears death the dear woman who weighs 70 pounds had something heavy on her heart. She wanted to express love to another human being. To be told that she was loved is something she longed to hear. I don't know much of her background. She never married nor had children. She has no relatives who are living. Shirley needs the love of God.

Soon after Christmas, the Valentine's Day rush begins. We are told we need to spend money on overpriced flowers, candy, pajamas, and the like. It is all about love and romance. Of course, there is a place for that, though it is often from a worldly perspective. My valentine and I will celebrate our 20th anniversary next month. When she tells me she loves me I know she means it. I am blessed to have her in my life. I don't recall her saying I look wonderful, but she is known for her honesty.

Many who are reading this are grateful for their spouses. They see God's sovereign hand in leading them to someone to whom they can share love. Let us not forget on this cupid day that there are many who have lost their spouses. Others are divorced and carry the baggage and pain that is usually associated with a break-up. Some folks, like my patient, never married. I talked to a friend today in his early 20s who recently bought a house. He said all he needs now is a woman. I encouraged him to wait for God's best for him. So with all the red hearts, roses and talk of love on this day be sensitive to those who can't wait for Valentine's Day to end.

If you do have a partner to love (romantically and with commitment) along with family members and friends (sacrificially) don't forget what makes one capable of loving. John stated it well: "We love because He first loved us" (1 John 4:19). It is wise to remind yourself daily that the God of the universe who sent His Son to the cross loves YOU. Maybe you should stop reading my words for a moment and repeat and reflect on this – God loves me!

The fact that God so loves the world means He loves each person who has ever lived in this world. That includes unborn children, all races, criminals, atheists, politicians, less fortunate, millionaires, dying people and the faithful. Sinners are loved by God. The meaning of God's love is a huge topic that I can only touch upon here. The Bible tells us that God is love (1 John 4:8). He started love. The Lord defines love and He is defined by love. Love is action. That is why God sent His Son. It is why He listens actively to our prayers. Love is why He disciplines His children. God's loving kindness is what leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4).

It is great to tell others we love them. But I fear that sometimes we just say the words, as my patient did with me. There was not really a context or meaning behind her words as best as I can tell. It is pretty easy to tell my wife I love her. The hard part comes when she might not be in a great mood or when she lets me down. When she needs me to listen and I have what I think is something more important to do, if I love her I will really listen. I will forgive and not hold things against her if I love her. We must really think about God and His love when we seek to love others. Love is not easy. Love takes sacrifice. Sometimes it is not pleasant. If you didn't find a perfect Valentine's Day gift, read 1 Corinthians 13. Commit yourself to loving the way the Bible describes love. Think in terms of imitating God. Love is the greatest! It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres (1 Corinthians13:7). Always!

A few old songs come to mind. What can I say? I am not young! While about 90 percent of popular music is about "love" I will stick with truths like...

I am so glad that our Father in Heaven

Tells of His love in the Book He has given;

Wonderful things in the Bible I see,

This is the dearest, that Jesus loves me.

I am so glad that Jesus loves me,

Jesus loves me, Jesus loves me;

I am so glad that Jesus loves me,

Jesus loves even me. ~Philip P. Bliss

Oh, love of God, how rich and pure!

How measureless and strong!

It shall forevermore endure-

The saints' and angels' song.

~Frederick M. Lehman

We can be grateful that Jesus loves even us. When we love others we reflect the rich, pure, strong love of God. There are a lot of things we can pursue in life. The best way to live is to walk in God's love and to love others no matter what. Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God (1 John 4:7).


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