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So, is this love?

What kind of love do you exhibit in your life? Is it 'conditional love'? This is the kind where you only extend yourself to those that extend themselves - like a 'you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours' kind of thing. Is it 'strings attached' love? The kind in which love is given, but only within certain limits. Is it 'free love'? There may be more than one meaning to this one, but in the times when I grew up, 'free love' was that kind of 'giving of one's self' without commitment, often in a sexual sense. If we are confused about the type of love we see exhibited around us, maybe it would do us well to understand what God says about it!

I may speak in different languages, whether human or even of angels. But if I don’t have love, I am only a noisy bell or a ringing cymbal. I may have the gift of prophecy, I may understand all secrets and know everything there is to know, and I may have faith so great that I can move mountains. But even with all this, if I don’t have love, I am nothing. I may give away everything I have to help others, and I may even give my body as an offering to be burned. But I gain nothing by doing all this if I don’t have love. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 ERV

God wants us to understand there are no 'conditions' to love. Grace is a reality in our lives as a result of all the conditions already being met in one person alone - Christ Jesus. No other 'conditions' exist for us to participate in and receive God's grace. Grace is unconditional - an outpouring of God's heart to meet a need so deep in our lives it could never be met by anything else. If God's love is first of all 'unconditional' then maybe we'd do well to consider how many conditions we have been placing on our love!

God's love isn't an 'out there and in your face' kind of love. He is there, yes, but he doesn't 'intrude' into your life unless he is invited. His love is invited - it isn't forced. Imagine if God woke up one morning and said to himself, "I'm gonna get them to love me, or else..." I am not sure about you, but I wouldn't want a relationship with him just because I feared the "or else"! God doesn't intimidate us to get our love - he invites us into love and then he waits for us to acknowledge that invitation. Yes, he pursues us in gentleness and kindness, but he doesn't intimidate or intrude!

God's love gives first, long before we even know there is a need in our lives that he has met. His love isn't 'strings attached' when it is given - it is 'free' only in the sense that it is available to all. His love isn't going to break us down - it is going to woo us and gently encourage us to find joy in it, but it isn't going to be like sandpaper wearing away at the hardness of our heart. His love softens the hardest heart, not by being abrasive, but in gentle and repeated extension of his grace. Just sayin!

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