No Greater Love
A devotional by Karen Marstaller
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”
–John 15:12-13 (ESV)
February. The month filled with hearts, flowers, and boxes of candy is upon us.
In our very modern world, we tend to believe that if we look a certain way, or say a particular phrase, or buy the most expensive gift for someone we care about that they will reciprocate and will love us back.
We call it “romantic”. We watch the sweet movies about a man and a woman who fall in love, and we shed a few happy tears when they finally kiss at the end.
Or maybe it’s the tender love stories we learned to enjoy when we were young. Jane Austen and Louisa May Alcott started it for me. You can read the blurb on the cover of the book and are assured that the main characters will face hardships throughout the story, but true love will eventually rule the day.
Love is multi-faceted. We love our relatives differently than we love our best friends. We love our spouses and children in another way. We seldom talk about loving our neighbors, but we’re always ready to defend our favorite ice cream. “But I love Chocolate Chip,” we say. “It’s my favorite!”
Maybe we’ve trivialized the meaning of the word “love” so much that we don’t recognize real love when we see it. It could be that some of us entered a “love” relationship with a cute guy, or a hunk of an athlete, or the wealthy aristocrat who can whisk us away where our dreams of romance await. But that’s not always love.
Our Heavenly Father has a completely radical view of love. God’s version of love is His Son, Jesus Christ, on a cross, dying for the sins of the world (John 3:16). His sacrificial love is equal to our redemption. His love shelters us, cleanses us, and renews and motivates us.
Ultimately, God’s love makes it possible for us to find our true home in His heart. Walking in the forgiveness of our sins, we are given the opportunity to live the abundant life that Jesus promised in John 10:10.
God’s love is a different experience from the generic kind of love that the world has contrived.
God’s love is so pure and complete that His desire is for our hearts to be cleansed, and not for our gorgeous or good looks to be our only selling point. He wants us freed from the burden of our sin which often yanks us by a chain into sometimes disastrous choices. His plan for us is to learn how to truly love each other. And His example is our Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus agreed to embrace humility all the way to the cross. He carried the shame and embarrassment which we so richly deserve. He stepped into a chaotic world that was swirling in the depths of wicked ways, and in love, He laid down on a cross to let sinful men pound heavy nails into His sinless flesh.
That’s what love did.
And that’s not all God’s love did. Through the resurrection of our Lord Jesus, God granted us another freedom—access to God Himself. We can call out to the Lord to save us, to help us, to love and care for us, and then we have the privilege of asking for strength to share His wonderful love with those around us. He hears all our prayers.
It all comes down to this: Do we love other people enough to tell them about the Lord? Do we allow His love to bubble up inside of us and spill out into our everyday interactions? Do we bless others with the joy He gives? And most importantly, do we really believe that God loves us? If so, then we will share the unfathomable love of our risen Savior with the people we meet.
It’s a true love story that’s worth sharing.
Let’s Pray: Dear Lord God, the Creator of pure love, please open our eyes for opportunities to share Your good news of hope, of life, and of love to the people around us. Please give us overflowing hearts of gratitude for the miracle of Your love for us. Please bless us all with Your perfect Valentine, Your Son, Jesus Christ. Thank You, dear Father. It is in the wonderful name of Jesus that we pray. Amen.
Song of Reflection: “No Greater Love” by Rachael Lampa. Listen to it here.
Karen Marstaller is a retired high school teacher who spent most of her career challenging creative students to write. Her heart is for her readers.
She writes to encourage them, to make them laugh, to show them that life is a beautiful journey, and regardless of their past, to show them that there is joy ahead if they will just keep looking.
Karen and her husband live in central Texas in a sweet little home that they completely remodeled. They enjoy spending time with their family, which includes seven precious grandchildren.
Most of all, Karen writes in obedience to the command to love your neighbor, to offer a cup of water to those who are dying of thirst, and to comfort others with the comfort she has received.
You can reach Karen by emailing her at this address: email@example.com