This week's team journal is written by Jillian Vincent, DWITW's blog and podcast coordinator.
On this Valentine's week, my studies have taken me to a jam-packed 1 John 3, the love chapter of the love book. John 3:1 says, “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” God is our Father, lavishing love upon us, his kiddos. Word. Enough said. Mic drop. I could end right there with all the power of that statement.
But this got me thinking… if temporary, earthly love (a love that is so unbelievably lacking) can make us do all sorts of crazy things, what about God’s love? What should be our response to the perfect love of the Father? 1 John 3 describes three outcomes that result from this epic love upon our lives.
1. God’s love gives us confidence. When I think of the word confidence, I imagine HER. You know, the “it girl,” the one that doesn’t have to try to get her hair just right, who can eat whatever she wants without gaining a pound, who always knows just what to say. But then, I know; she doesn’t actually exist. And when I have these thoughts, am I not worshipping her instead of worshipping Jesus? A fake ideal instead of the FOR REAL deal? In context, John says experiencing God’s love gives us confidence before the Father. It gives us confidence, not because we become perfect, but because we are focused on the one that is perfect! We can rest in our identity as children of God, a role that has nothing to do with our performance. In 2:28, John writes, “And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming.” In 3:19-21, he continues, “By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart and he knows everything. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God.”
Are you hiding in shame, sister? What or who is causing that shame? It is not of God. He calls us into his presence and discards our shame. He is greater than that shame in our hearts! We gain this confidence by spending time with Christ, abiding in Him, resting in our identity as beloved daughters. And I would add that as we have confidence before him, we also have confidence before the world, because earthly approval is no longer the focus of our affection. Our Father is! So we begin to care less about our hair and hips, Instagram hits, cleanliness of our houses, success of our careers, creativity of our children’s birthday parties, etc. Philippians 4:8 reads, “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ." Ladies, it all just becomes RUBBISH compared to knowing Christ!
2. God’s love purifies us. God’s fatherly love gives us a drive to be pure as he is pure. When we experience the love of the Father, it compels us to want to please him. We have to be done with sin, because there is no sinning in the presence of our holy Father. We have been “born of God.” So as a Christian, my sin eats me alive now. When I have unconfessed sin in my life, it is a magnified weight on my heart and distances me from my Father. Even “white lies” grieve me deeply, because they cannot stand in my Father’s presence. I want to be close to him, and there is such intimacy in confession, and opening up my heart for God to make pure. It doesn’t always feel good, and sometimes it is downright embarrassing because it causes us to admit to others our imperfections instead of being the “IT GIRL” (see note about confidence above). And sometimes it means looking stupid to other people who won’t get why it is such a big deal or who are just plain offended by your conviction. Yet, those convictions and confessions always give me opportunity to point myself and others away from me and towards my Father. Does this mean I will never sin again? No! But it does mean I will be about practicing righteousness instead of practicing lawlessness, which is habitual sin. This side of heaven, I’m going to be confessing and confessing again, on my knees crying out to Abba to help me. But one glorious day, sister, the battle will be over. We will be like him because we will see him as he is, in all his pure glory (1 John 3:3).
3. God’s love compels us to love others. The love of the Father drives us to love others fiercely. We will drop everything we have to lay down our lives for each other. We won’t drag our feet out of guilt because it is “the right thing to do.” We will be compelled with love because THAT IS HOW GOD LOVES US! “We love because he first loved us,” reads 1 John 4:19. God’s love is the kind of love that sings LOUDLY over you (Zephaniah 3:17), serves you and lays down your life for you (Mark 20:28), the kind that quenches your thirst (John 4). So we are not passive vehicles of his love, my sisters, we are first in line, eager and earnest in our love from pure hearts (1 Peter 1:22).
What does that even mean? Today? A million beautiful things. There is no act of love too small because it all originates in the perfect love of the Father. In my life, God has been loving me so fiercely that I just can’t help but wash my friends dishes before mine, take the scary first step of adoption, and ask my husband how I can serve him instead of launching babies at him as soon as he comes through the door. It is competing with my black neighbors over who can give each other the best Christmas presents. It is hitting my knees to beg God to give my friend struggling with infertility a baby. It is crawling out of bed at three in the morning to feed my own baby and doing it again an hour later. It is, in fact, delightful, surprising, challenging, and simple. It is imperfect, but practicing. Love, in deed and in truth. Once you know the truth, once you see Christ as he is, you want to love like he loves. You just can’t help yourself, flawed as you are. You will be smitten, asking your Father God to help you be just like him when you grow up.
Sisters, let’s not wait another second to ask God to give us confidence before Him, to purify our hearts, and to compel us to love others the way he loves us. I’m praying 1 John 3 over your lives today as I’m praying it for mine. Thank you, Father, for the crazy way you love us.
Jillian has been a lover of Jesus for twenty years. She's a wife, mother of two boys and a Dayton enthusiast. Jillian currently is a stay at home mama and spends nap times jotting on her blog and discipling other women. She would (almost) die for an avocado, a cup of coffee made by her husband, a novel that makes her cry, and a bouquet of sunflowers.