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Today's Little Lift

    by Jim Bullington

What Manner of Love? (1 John 3.1)
Date Posted: June 15, 2021

I remember a little about Qualitative Chemistry and also about Quantitative Chemistry. The first seeks to determine what elements/compounds are present and the second seeks to determine in what amounts they are present. John made a rhetorical statement, which we will consider in today's devotional, dealing with Qualitative Love. His comment was not about how much love was present ; it was about what type of love was present .

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.” (1 John 3.1). Some things are almost beyond the pale of human understanding. Let me illustrate. Suppose by some marvel of time travel that Benjamin Franklin who died over two hundred years ago could be transported into our present culture, and that we are responsible for showing him around. Remember, it was Franklin who discovered that electricity was available in storm clouds through a kite and a key. First, let's take Ben down to the nuclear power station and see if he can grasp that concept! But, hold on a minute; wouldn't it be better to start off with the tiny steps of progress that made nuclear power possible? How could he possibly leap from his primitive understanding of electricity to the multiple complexities of nuclear energy? If he is to ever understand, it will be by small steps of awakenings that eventually lead him to the larger picture that we want him to know. It isn't whether or not electricity is present, it is the type of electricity that will be the problem!

That is the way it is with God's love. Everyone knows love in some measure; that is not the difficult part. The problem comes in understanding the type of love that God possesses and manifests toward His creation! There is nothing in nature like His love! Maybe it's like a mother's love for her newborn – but that doesn't quite illustrate it either. God's love is even deeper and more intense than that. The problem that John had was one of explaining the type of love that God possesses. We can see its effects, but we cannot understand it. Bluntly, the type of love that God has is the type of love that will allow Him to call us His sons! Not only does it allow Him to call us Sons, He is actually glorified and honored when that relationship comes about! That is the quality of love that we cannot fully comprehend.

There is a wonderful passage from a song by Fredrick M. Lehman which speaks to our inability to capture the essence of God's love. The origins of the third stanza of The Love of God can be traced back about a thousand years; it is moving enough, but it still comes up short in describing the manner of love which the Father has for us. Could we with ink the ocean fill / And were the skies of parchment made, / Were every stalk on earth a quill / And every man a scribe by trade. / To write the love of God above / Would drain the ocean dry; / Nor could the scroll contain the whole / Though stretched from sky to sky. / O love of God, how rich and pure! / How measureless and strong! / It shall forevermore endure, / The saints' and angels' song.

One biblical text will further illustrate the manner of God's love. John, the apostle of love, speaks to the matter when he says, “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.” (1 John 4.18). John addresses perfect love, a concept which we only know in theory. That type of love “casts out fear.” Literally, perfect love throws fear away without caring where it falls! Further, there is NO FEAR in this manner of love. We do not have perfect love; the Father does. This is what allows Him to proudly call us His children!

Questions:

1. Is love manifested in nature? If yes, how and to what degree?

2. Does nature sometimes demonstrate an apparent lack of love? If so how and when?

3. How can a human being fathom the mysteries of the Creator? While robed in human flesh can we, even with His help and tutoring, plumb the depths of His character? Why or why not?

4. How does God show the character of His love? What demonstrations has He made which allow us a glimpse, however brief it might be, of the manner of love which He possesses? Do you or does anyone you know possess perfect love as defined in 1 John 4.18?

"Refreshment in Refuge" from Gina Burgess

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Biography Information:
Jim Bullington - A Christian writer whose insight into the scriptures is reflected in practical application lessons in every article. The reader will find that the Bible speaks directly to him/her through these articles. God is always exalted and His word is treated with the utmost respect in this column.
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