40: A New Commandment

     Throughout this year I have been writing about how much God loves us. How much he likes us and desires a relationship with each one of His children. Our relationship with our heavenly father sets the tone for our relationships with our earthly family. If we have been freely forgiven we are able to freely forgive. To the degree that we have been a recipient of grace, to the same measure we will be a distributor of grace. He that has been forgiven much loves much.

     The best thing we can do to be a loving, gracious, forgiving husband and father, is to draw near to God and experience His love, grace, and forgiveness. Our vertical connection with the triune God determines our horizontal effectiveness in our family.

     We have observed this connection in Deuteronomy 6:5-7, where the Holy Spirit inspired Moses to write the 5th verse before the 7th. Verse 5 exhorts us to love God and then verse 7 follows with the command to teach our children. But loving God precedes teaching about God.

     Jesus builds on this concept when he offers a “new commandment” in John 13:34 and reiterated in John 15:12. Love one another, even as I have loved you.

     I have been reading my Bible for a long time and after reading these verses, have never asked the appropriate question: “How has he loved us?” Because we are to love each other, AS, He has loved us.

     There are two passages that speak to me of God’s love for me. They are Romans 5:6-10, and Ephesians 2:1-10, which are included at the end*. The central thought is found in Romans 5:8 8 God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

While We Were Still Sinners

     He loved us while we were weak, ungodly, sinners, and enemies, in short while we were unattractive and unloveable. He didn’t wait for us to get cleaned up but loved us just as we were. This is grace. It is not what we deserve. This is how we are to love our spouse and our children. When they are unlovely and undeserving, for this is how God loves us.

He gives his grace, graciously.

     There is a wonderful verse that describes how God distributes His grace. Psalms 18:35 You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your right hand supported me, and your gentleness made me great. His gentleness is what has made us great. Grace flows from His divine nature and the essence of who He is.

     In Matthew 11:29 Jesus is described as: I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. And in Matthew 12:20 He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle. We have a meek, gentle, gracious Savior who dispenses grace, gracefully and graciously.

He Died For Us.

     Philippians 2:6 Though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

     He died so that we could live. In the same way, we are called to lay down our life for each other. Philippians 2:5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,

     Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

     John 12:24 “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,

     This past year I have been helped to die to Steve. In the process I have found my true life. For many years I have tried to modify my behavior and make changes to be a better husband and dad. My behavior changed for weeks and sometimes months at a time, but eventually I would revert to my former self. But this year I am experiencing change deep in my being. God has called me to die, and not temporarily modify. On one level it has not been pleasant. On another level it has been wonderfully liberating. The death has led to life, and has produced really good fruit in my relationships with those who are most important to me.

     I have given a lot of thought about what enabled Jesus to die. What was it that helped Him to say, “Nevertheless not my will but thine be done.” I have concluded that it was “for the joy that was set before him (He) endured the cross, Hebrews 12:2. I think that joy was to enable His bride, each of us, to marry Him.

     I hope you are encouraged and you are thinking about how God loved us. I have a few more insights but will share them in the next few weeks. This newsletter is also posted on facebook.com/stevedemme. If you have insights to contribute I hope you will feel free to leave them as “comments”.

May God continue to reveal His great love to each of us,