‘Tis the season for love. Valentine’s Day will be here soon. The day of the year filled with chocolates, flowers, cards. I have spent a few days reflecting on love- not necessarily in preparation for Valentine’s Day- more so as a way to sharpen myself.
God’s love towards Adam. When God came to commune with Adam and Eve in the evening, he already knew that they had sinned. He simply asks “Who told you that you were naked?… Have you eaten the fruit I commanded you not to eat?” ( Gen 3:11). God loved the sinner.
God’s love towards Cain. After Cain kills Abel, the Lord asks him point blank, “Where is your brother?” He is punished but not degraded. God loved the killer.
God’s love for Abraham. When Abraham does not see the seed promised to him, he takes matters into his own hands and impregnates Hagar. After Ishmael is born, God comes back to Abraham and renews his covenant with him: “I will guarantee to make you into a mighty nation.” (Gen 17:2). I would have expected God to approach him and say “Hey man, what were you thinking?? You blew it.” God loved the adulterer.
God’s love for Jacob. He steals his brother’s blessing and runs away. While he’s on the run, he has a dream about a stairway to heaven, with God standing at the top. He speaks to him in this vision and tells him “…I will be with you, and I will protect you wherever you go…I will be with you constantly until I have finished giving you everything I have promised.” (Gen 28: 15) God loved the thief.
God’s love towards Moses. God shows himself to Moses in the burning bush and lays out his plan to rescue the Israelites- AFTER Moses had killed a man and ran into hiding. God loved the murderer.
In all of these cases, God’s conversation with them is never condemning. Punishment is given out as needed, but God’s voice is never harsh or rude. In all of these cases, God’s dialogue is one of justice and affection.
This changed two things for me…
- It challenged me to change the way that I speak to those around me, particularly in stressful times. It challenged me to speak in love, even when the situation makes me angry or hurt. It convicted me of how I have spoken in those relationships where there is underlying strain. The situation itself may be distressing, but being a voice of peace during those times is much more soothing than a voice of accusation or blame.
- It challenged me to filter the voices that I hear and hold on to. In so many situations, I hear the voices of self-pity, guilt, anger, and hurt- and I want to cling to those voices as ammunition for my next move. Those voices are not the ones to listen to- the Holy Spirit would never lead you down that path- it would lead you the opposite way. Fight to hear the voice of love instead.