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Reactionary Love

Devotional 2.14.24

Dear Faith Family,

We love because He first loved us, (1 John 4:19).

Love is a reaction.  There, I said it.  But I do not think that means what you think it means!  Let me explain.  We are often reactionary people, right?  The alarm clock (or phone) goes off and we react.  You know with, “Wow, it’s another great day to be alive!” or with, “Where am I?” or maybe our hand reacts by making a fist and pounding the bed table in a desperate search for a way to silence the alarm!

And so begins a long chain of reactions.  We react to the water pot when it alerts us that the water is hot and ready for our coffee.  We react to the other drivers on our commute.  We react to the fast-food employee who informs us that our lunch is served.  We react to the clock on the wall when it informs us that it is quitting time.  And we may even react to our spouse or another member of the family when we arrive home.  You know, if we receive a kind greeting, we react in kind.  And if not?  Well, that can trigger a nuclear reaction!

Here's my point.  Often love is reduced to a reaction, a reaction to the one being loved.  In other words, love depends upon the person that we love.  (That didn’t sound good, did it?)  All it takes is for one person to have a bad day.  The second person reacts in kind (or not so kind).  Person one’s turn to react ….  Yikes!  It doesn’t take long for that to get ugly, right?! 

What if I said that the problem isn’t that we are reactionary?  What if the problem is that we are reacting to the wrong person or thing?  Love didn’t (and still doesn’t) begin with us.  John informs us that love begins and ends with God.  In fact, love is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22).  My point?  Our lives ought to be a living reaction to the author of love.

Paul modeled that behavior in Ephesians 4:32.  He called us to be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another.  That sounds proactive rather than reactive.  Hold on.  The verse concludes with the source of such behavior, as God in Christ forgave you.  There it is!  God calls us to react to Him in our behavior toward others.  The only way that we can be proactive toward each other (loving one another – even when mistreated) is if we are reacting to the God who chose to love us when we were dead in our sin.

God chose to love us based on who He is.  Likewise, we ought to love one another based on who He is.  Because God initiated love we can love one another.

Learning how to react to His love,
Pastor Karl