The Standards of Love

I was in an internet exchange the other day where someone asked, “Do we meet God’s standards of love? If not, what can we do to improve?”

I know many people who wonder about that because religion has taught us to see love as a command, not as a reality. I used to look at love as a standard we have to live up to. It was exhausting, it didn’t work, and I’ve come to believe that love isn’t a standard we need to achieve at all. I’m convinced love is a reality for us to live in. It is the reality that totally defines the God we’re coming to know. He is love, and he responds in love to us. I am convinced the descriptors of love in I Corinthians 13 are not the Ten Commandments of the New Testament telling us how we should act, but a description of God’s love, both as it flows from his heart and in our freedom as we live in that love.

Otherwise we’re just reduced to actors, trying to follow a script God wrote. He invited us into a relationship of love that would transform us. As I grow to know his, I grow in finding love in my heart for others. I don’t conjure it up. I don’t pretend to have it. When it’s there I can live out of that love. When it’s not, I go running to him, sit at his feet, and ask him to teach me more of his love and pray that it will win more of my heart. This has been a fifteen-year journey for me and I feel as if I’m only scratching the surface. But it works. As I relax into the reality of his love I find love in my heart for others, even when they are being spiteful toward me.

So I see love now as a journey. It begins in him, and he invites me into its flow. Little by little, one day at a time, I’m learning to live in that reality. Where I do, my heart is at peace and some wonderful fruit gets borne for others. Where I don’t, I get worn out, self-focused, and anxious. As I sit here today I see the ocean of God’s love as the world’s greatest resort, and there is no better place to live, and that doesn’t require one thing to change in my life except to grow in the reality of his love. But I truly want nothing else. No other trinket or ambition in this world compares to it.

But I’ll grant you the learning curve is fairly steep for those of us who found it easier to live as if we weren’t loved.

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16 Comments
  1. Jeremy Myers January 5, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    My wife and I reading “He Loves Me!” right now because we have struggled with understanding the love of God. We read the chapter on the Prodigal Son, and how the love of the father welcomed back his son so extravagantly.

    Our question was “What about the son who stayed home? Why didn’t the father throw a party for him also?”

  2. Jeremy Myers January 5, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    My wife and I reading “He Loves Me!” right now because we have struggled with understanding the love of God. We read the chapter on the Prodigal Son, and how the love of the father welcomed back his son so extravagantly.

    Our question was “What about the son who stayed home? Why didn’t the father throw a party for him also?”

  3. Debbie January 6, 2011 at 3:45 am

    I think the party was just as much for the older brother as well but his jealousy prevented him from entering in. In that parable I see it ends with a disunity or divide still between the brothers that maybe only a wedding can cure.

  4. Angela January 6, 2011 at 5:28 am

    I needed to see this today. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  5. Debbie January 6, 2011 at 6:45 am

    I think the party was just as much for the older brother as well but his jealousy prevented him from entering in. In that parable I see it ends with a disunity or divide still between the brothers that maybe only a wedding can cure.

  6. Angela January 6, 2011 at 8:28 am

    I needed to see this today. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  7. Charles Graham January 6, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    Jeremy, I would recommend you read a book by John Sheasby called, “The Birthright”. It was originally called “Son”. It will help answer your question.

  8. Charles Graham January 6, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    Jeremy, I would recommend you read a book by John Sheasby called, “The Birthright”. It was originally called “Son”. It will help answer your question.

  9. Sue January 7, 2011 at 10:08 am

    I really needed this today, every once in awhile I start wondering ”What if I’m not doing enough” for Papa, or maybe I should be more informed in what’s going on in the world, get more involved in politics-learning about it not running for office. I start doubting myself and getting confused on my feelings. Then I read this blog and everything becomes clearer, Papa didn’t ask us to conform the government, He asked us to love. He didn’t tell us to get involved in ministries, He asked us to love. I’m the one who complicates things, His way is simple….I just forget to listen to Him

  10. Sue January 7, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    I really needed this today, every once in awhile I start wondering ”What if I’m not doing enough” for Papa, or maybe I should be more informed in what’s going on in the world, get more involved in politics-learning about it not running for office. I start doubting myself and getting confused on my feelings. Then I read this blog and everything becomes clearer, Papa didn’t ask us to conform the government, He asked us to love. He didn’t tell us to get involved in ministries, He asked us to love. I’m the one who complicates things, His way is simple….I just forget to listen to Him

  11. Vic Andres January 10, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    It’s not only religion that commands us to love God but the misinterpretation of Jesus remarks that this is the greatest commandment. From the beginning God wanted a voluntary response to HIs love so how come in the NT does Jesus repeat God’s instructions to Joshua seemingly reinforcing this command? I believe that as a nation going forth into the land to displace ungodliness, Israel needed to be told what godliness looked like since the image had been tainted in the fall. Even in the command to love the Lord with all your heart and soul and strength, God was revealing that love was the attraction. As Christians, that image is resident in us and rather than command love it becomes an invitation. Jesus, in his answer to the question adds one more element, he says we are also to love with our mind. In other word think about it, to command love is an oxymoron.

  12. Vic Andres January 10, 2011 at 7:42 pm

    It’s not only religion that commands us to love God but the misinterpretation of Jesus remarks that this is the greatest commandment. From the beginning God wanted a voluntary response to HIs love so how come in the NT does Jesus repeat God’s instructions to Joshua seemingly reinforcing this command? I believe that as a nation going forth into the land to displace ungodliness, Israel needed to be told what godliness looked like since the image had been tainted in the fall. Even in the command to love the Lord with all your heart and soul and strength, God was revealing that love was the attraction. As Christians, that image is resident in us and rather than command love it becomes an invitation. Jesus, in his answer to the question adds one more element, he says we are also to love with our mind. In other word think about it, to command love is an oxymoron.

  13. Len January 12, 2011 at 8:55 pm

    That learning curve you mention in the last sentence saddens me when I encounter people who fit that description. I want to tell them that “it gets better” as they say, but they just cannot see over the horizon. Resorting to prayer is such a hard discipline for me.

  14. Len January 12, 2011 at 11:55 pm

    That learning curve you mention in the last sentence saddens me when I encounter people who fit that description. I want to tell them that “it gets better” as they say, but they just cannot see over the horizon. Resorting to prayer is such a hard discipline for me.

  15. Raymond Hilliard January 13, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    Wayne, I just finished reading “He Loves Me!” and I must tell you it has transformed my whole way of thinking about our Loving Father. The whole book just rings true and is filled with wisdom and common sense. I needed that!
    What a difference in my life as I am learning to live loved by our God. I had him all wrong! I believed he was against me so long and have found such freedom now in the truth. Now I know that I am His and He is mine! And living loved just has to come before we are able to want to follow Him. Because then it is not a burden or something we have to strive for out of the flesh. As you said, the flesh had to be crucified with Christ because out of it we cannot please God. Only by partaking of the finished work of Christ at Calvary are we victorious. And as He said, “It is finished.” Period.
    I once had an elder and friend who first gave me a hint of this as he told me one day that perhaps the Commandments were more like a prophecy than a command. And I believe it as I see it happening as I journey on this living loved journey with you and all the others on the same journey.
    God bless you for writing this book and I am so grateful to God for opening my blind eyes!

  16. Raymond Hilliard January 13, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    Wayne, I just finished reading “He Loves Me!” and I must tell you it has transformed my whole way of thinking about our Loving Father. The whole book just rings true and is filled with wisdom and common sense. I needed that!
    What a difference in my life as I am learning to live loved by our God. I had him all wrong! I believed he was against me so long and have found such freedom now in the truth. Now I know that I am His and He is mine! And living loved just has to come before we are able to want to follow Him. Because then it is not a burden or something we have to strive for out of the flesh. As you said, the flesh had to be crucified with Christ because out of it we cannot please God. Only by partaking of the finished work of Christ at Calvary are we victorious. And as He said, “It is finished.” Period.
    I once had an elder and friend who first gave me a hint of this as he told me one day that perhaps the Commandments were more like a prophecy than a command. And I believe it as I see it happening as I journey on this living loved journey with you and all the others on the same journey.
    God bless you for writing this book and I am so grateful to God for opening my blind eyes!

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