Saturday, January 8, 2011

Love Costs


We have probably all said things we didn’t mean and meant things we didn’t say. As well, you might have experienced saying something that you really did mean but ended up not doing. Sometimes people mean what they say and say what they mean only to decide later that it is going to cost them more than they are willing to pay to keep their word. If you have ever had that happen to you, then you know that it can be a disappointing moment for everyone involved.

Just such a sad thing happened to Peter in his relationship with Jesus.

Matthew 26 NKJV

31 ¶ Then Jesus said to them, "All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written: ’I will strike the Shepherd, And the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’

32 But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee."

33 Peter answered and said to Him, "Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble."

34 Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times."

35 Peter said to Him, "Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!" And so said all the disciples.

Luke 22 NKJV

60 But Peter said, "Man, I do not know what you are saying!" Immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed.

61 And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, "Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times."

62 So Peter went out and wept bitterly.

This moment broke both of their hearts. Peter said what he meant and meant what he said but Peter was not prepared to pay the price it would cost to keep his word. How sad … how disappointing, not only to Jesus, but also to Peter.

Peter had an eye opening experience, an awakening if you will, when he reacted out of fear as though he loved himself more than he loved Jesus.

The tests we most often fail are tests which deal with love. Do we love God more than we do ourselves and then do we love others as much as we do ourselves? These are the greatest tests of our lives. It is easy to say “I Love You”, but there will be a test!

The Bible is a true story about God in love. Have you ever been in love? If so, then you may understand God a little better than someone who has not experienced in this area.

Now I’m not talking about liking, or wanting, or appreciating, or even lusting after someone or something. The world misdiagnoses lust and accepts it as love. Lust is built on the foundation of getting while love, although love hopes for a return, love is first and always about giving.

Love says, “I want to give myself first, most and always.”

But remember, love will be tested. We may say what we mean and mean what we say but, if love is to win out, we must also be prepared to pay the price love demands. And the truth is, love can cost you!

Love, true love, Being In Love:

Compels Pursuit

Requires Audience

Demands Reply

This is true about both God and man. We can read God’s testimony and, each one of us who has ever been in love, have our own testimonies as well. Love, God’s love, true love – follows the same course. Whether or not love wins in the end is a matter of whether or not we pass the tests of love.

I remember falling in love. Several of you can repeat my testimony as well as I can because you have heard it so many times. Mine is a true love story not dissimilar to others you may have heard or read about. It sounds a bit dramatic, as do most true love stories, but believe me when I tell you that it does not tell any more dramatic than it was lived.

It was the fall of 1967, about six weeks after I accepted Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior, when I saw Brenda for the very first time. I looked up and there she was … I fell head over heels in love with her. It would take too long to describe what happened in that moment. All of the sudden, unrehearsed, uninvited, unexpected as it was, my life changed and I have never been the same since.

As I said earlier, all true love follows the same course … and, my love compelled pursuit. I set my affections on Brenda and used every means imaginable to relentlessly pursue her until finally, after 3 years and 9 months, she asked me for a date.

Of course I wanted her but, even though she had no idea at the time, she already had me. It was true love. From the first day I fell in love with her I pursued her continuously for 5 years, 4 months and 14 days, until she married me plus another 9 years before she fell in love with me.

You might think that’s extreme, but God has been pursuing many of you much longer than that and all He wants is for you to fall in love with Him like He has always been in love with you.

Love compels pursuit and, love requires audience. Love wants to be heard, seen, felt, and understood. God wants you to know that you are loved – uncontrollably and undeniably. It was the same with me, I wanted Brenda to know and notice how much I loved her … so I told her and I showed her – perhaps a bit earlier in the relationship than others would have suggested, but at least I was earnest.

Many people feel uncomfortable when they hear about God’s love too, and how He demonstrated His love for them before they ever knew He existed. The scriptures say that we love Him because He first loved us.

John 4: 19 We love Him because He first loved us.

Note: Don’t be fooled by lust into thinking you are in love or that someone else is in love with you. Love gives, it does not take – love brings you closer to God and His will for your life. Love will be tested – love will not lead you into sin. If you sin, it is because you have failed a test of love. But don’t despair, you can recover and pass the next test.

You don’t have to stop loving to get forgiveness – but you do have to stop sinning.

Love compels pursuit; requires audience; and love demands reply.

In my personal testimony, I could not imagine living my life with any satisfaction, any peace, or any rest without knowing if my love meant anything to the one I loved. I wanted to know … my love demanded reply. I often did not like the reply I received or perceived, but that at least gave me a choice to stop pursuit or to continue and face more disappointment.

Now let me make myself very clear here. I am not making any allowances here for the crazies or the stalkers or the infatuated that obsess over an imaginary relationship with someone who clearly considers your advances as unwelcomed and unwanted intrusions into their private lives or personal space. Brenda and I were not at odds in my continual pursuit of her affection as I attempted to win her love for those years. The one time that she did tell me to leave her alone and not bother her any more, I did. She was the one who re-instigated the relationship after that and re-opened that door. If someone tells you to leave them alone … leave them alone! Even God says that He will do the same once a person makes that choice. However, up until that door is closed, “there’s a chance!”

Love demands reply and when the final answer is “no” … then respect the no and pass the test. After all, love, true love, is built on the platform of giving, not getting! Sometimes all that can be given is a chance.

And at times, love costs more than one may be willing, able or prepared to pay. Remember, that is what Peter experienced. But, thankfully the story does not end with Peter’s failure. John 21:15-17 details the account of Jesus later demanding reply from Peter three times, once for each former denial: “Do you love Me Peter?” To which the unqualified answer was, Yes!

And believe me, this time Peter was prepared to pay.

To understand this love, we need to better understand God:

God’s Heart

God is in love with you!

God’s Hurt

He often feels rejected, unwanted, forgotten and unloved

God’s Hope

In closing allow me to read a scripture passage written by “the Disciple whom Jesus loved”. Perhaps this will help us to better understand God’s hope.

1 John 4 NKJV

7 ¶ Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.

8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

9 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.

10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

12 No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.

16 And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.

18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.

19 We love Him because He first loved us.