By Steven Chan
1. What can change a person to act differently? The Bible tells us that the demonstration of love for someone can itself be a powerful means for effecting changes in the life and behavior of the recipient of that love.
2. The apostle Paul was a recipient of the love of God: “although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. 14 And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. 15 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.” (1 Tim 1:13-15).
Having experienced the love shown by God to him, he wrote thus in 2 Cor 5:14-15: “For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.” Paul’s appreciation for God’s love changed him such that he decided to change how he would live his life.
3. Paul never failed to highlight God’s love: “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Paul highlighted the fact that Christ showed His love even while we were yet sinners. It was this incredible demonstration of love which Paul himself experience – when he was blessed to meet Christ on the road to Damascus – that caused Paul to change the course of his life – from being a persecutor of the faith to a preacher of the faith (Gal 1:23)
4. The love shown by Christ to sinners, transformed those who accepted His love, to become children of God, members of His church, the household of God (John 1:12; 1 John 3:1; 1 Tim 3:15). His love transformed them from sinners to saints (Eph 2:19) such that “He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.”
5. The love of God that transforms lives is incredible in that it is manifested to those who were not friendly towards God. As Jesus explained in Luke 6:32:-36 “But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same… But love your enemies, do good… and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. 36 Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.”
6. In view of God’s exceedingly great love that transforms lives, Paul exhorted Christians to imitate the love of God towards one another: “Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us” (Eph 5:1-2)
7. If we seek to imitate God to “walk in love” then we need to apply it to all areas of our relationships and interactions with one another – both in the church as well as those outside.
For example, some appear unable to show love for their spouses because they felt that their spouses do not deserve their love for some reasons. Consequently, their relationship becomes “cold” and devoid of the warm love that ought to characterize the relationship as desired by God (Eph 5:28).
So long as both parties continue in the path of “cold” war in their relationship, what is the likelihood of positive changes happening there? Such a relationship is likely to deteriorate over time – until and unless one party who has experienced the love of God that transforms him/her, decides to “walk in the same love that God has shown”. When that love is allowed to transform the person’s life, and he/she walks in that same love in dealing with others, soon the other party in the relationship will experience the love of God that will transform his/her life as well. The tremendous blessings of the love of God that transforms lives would then be realized in their lives.
“We love Him because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19). Similarly we need to make the first move and initiate our acts of love towards one another, and allow that love to transform our relationships.
8. Just as God’s love can heal our relationship with Him such that we can be reconciled to God (Rom 5:8-11), we need to imitate God and walk in love so that His love as manifested through our conduct will also transform the lives of those around us, such that any fractures in our relationships may also be healed. As beloved children of God, let’s imitate God (Eph 5:1)