Garry finished his series from 2 Peter 1:3-8 TNIV this morning, looking at the last item mentioned on Peter’s list of things which we should add to our faith, namely love. He has previously talked about brotherly kindness (or mutual affection), but here, he is talking about agape, God’s love. We need all these qualities if our faith is to be built on something solid! Peter says that we are participating in God’s divine nature, nature being what makes something what it is, and since love is a key part of God’s nature, it needs to be part of ours too.
God wants us to reflect the family likeness, and since He is love, love has to be evident in our lives. John tells us that God is love (1 John 4:8 TNIV) and is, therefore, an integral, intrinsic part of who God is. Love is part of all God is all He does always. We need to grasp that His love does not fail and never gives up. His love is a fact. Situations often test us and cause us to doubt His love (‘If God is love, why has this happened?’), but we need this solid foundation of fact on which to build. God’s love never fails (1 Cor 3:8 TNIV).
Unless we grasp hold of God’s love, we can easily become bitter or hardened or even fall away from the faith. We can’t always answer people’s questions or explain all that happens, but we rest on the fact of God’s love. Love is an identifier of God. He is defined by love, and therefore we too must be defined by love.
God’s love was the motivator to His actions (John 3:16 TNIV). Often, we can be motivated by other things (frustration, anger, road rage, shame, guilt, duty and so on), but God was not motivated by any of these things, only by love. This is a risky strategy. It’s easy to motivate people to do things out of guilt or shame, but since God’s love was the factor which motivated Him to send His Son, we must only be motivated by love. We reach out to others because of God’s love, not simply out of duty or guilty. Love is a risky strategy becasue there is no guarantee that others will respond, but we have to be motivated by the same things that motivate God (including a desire for righteousness and holiness.)
1 Corinthians 13 talks extensively about love. We are reminded in 1 Cor 13:13 TNIV that the greatest of all the things is love. Just as James tells us that faith without works is dead, so John reminds us that faith without love is dead. We need to add love to our faith if we are to mature and be effective in our lives for God.