We read so much about the love of God for His people and the love we should have for each other. May the Lord use these truths about genuine love in scripture to strengthen, encourage, and motivate you as you love others.
February is the month when we think about love. It seems each store puts up its Valentine’s displays soon after New Year’s Day. Red hearts, flowers, and chocolates feature in decorations and advertisements. I want to use the focus on love this month to remind pastors’ wives of the biblical view of love. For example, we read in 1 John 4:7 that love is from God. This description of genuine love transcends any temporal gift. It is eternal and has eternal rewards. It will motivate you to serve your husband and your church from a full heart because of the gospel reality in your life. This kind of love builds unity in your church. And genuine love for others motivates us to reach out to the neglected and lost.
One of Jesus’ disciples is specifically called “the one whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23, 19:26, 20:1, 21:7). I have always thought that John’s unique relationship with Jesus comes across clearly in John’s gospel and his first epistle. There we read so much about the love of God for His people and the love we should have for each other. The following passages from those books will elevate your heart and mind. May they give you a God-honoring perspective for your ministry. May the Lord use these truths about genuine love to strengthen, encourage, and motivate you as you love others. And may the Lord use you as a pastor’s wife to reflect his love onto others.
Understand God’s love for you
A theme in John’s writings is abiding in Christ. You are a branch connected to a vine (Jesus), which bears delicious and abundant fruit. This intense relationship with Christ is like sap that flows through a plant and gives life. Focus on your need to abide in your Savior (John 15:12). You cannot thrive without Him. The more you meditate on your status as beloved by God, the more you will find a greater capacity for loving those around you. As the Bible says in 1 John 4:19: “We love because he first loved us.”
In contrast, a lack of love for the difficult church deacon or complaining nursery worker demonstrates a weakness in your connection to Christ. You need to return to your first love and abide in Him. The result will be more patience toward all. “Whoever loves God must also love his brother,” to quote 1 John 4:21. February is a good month to remind yourself of the love of Jesus for you. He bore your sins and equips you to practice righteousness (1 John 3:7). The link between the gospel and living a godly life will motivate you to strive to abide in the Son of God.
“You are a branch connected to a vine (Jesus), which bears delicious and abundant fruit. This intense relationship with Christ is like sap that flows through a plant and gives life. Focus on your need to abide in your Savior. You cannot thrive without Him.”
John tells his readers that “whoever loves his brother abides in the light” (John 2:10). The theme of light is an important contrast to darkness throughout John’s works. The first few sentences of the book of John speak of Jesus as the light of men. “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:4-5). In 1 John 2:9, we read the description of someone who says he is in the light but is in darkness because he hates his brother. Each of us worships in a church with some people who are more challenging to love than others. You will be better equipped to handle those people when you cultivate love in your heart. You want to choose to live in the light; the alternative is walking in darkness, says John. The person in darkness “does not know where he is going” (1 John 2:11). Spiritual blindness sounds like an awful experience with dire results. Instead, you can set a tone for your church when you seek to love each one in your congregation. Your love for others reflects God’s love for you (1 John 4:11).
Spread God’s love to the world
February is also the perfect month to proclaim the love of God to others. “And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.” (1 John 3:23). I teach Sunday School to elementary students, and I enjoy mailing Valentine cards to the children in my class. Children get excited when they receive a letter with their name on it. But I don’t send just any Valentine. I include a little note about the love of Jesus.
I have also seen evidence of a gospel witness in my neighborhood. I don’t know the names of the people who live on a nearby street, but I do know how they reach out to those who walk down the sidewalk in front of their house. They set out a box filled with wrapped candy in plastic bags. The bags have a slip of paper stapled to the outside with a Bible verse. This family spreads the gospel message to the neighbors at Halloween, Christmas, and Valentine’s Day. Perhaps your church can begin a custom of sending Valentine’s cards to those in the Sunday School program or to shut-ins who can’t come to worship. Single members might appreciate a Valentine reminding them of God’s eternal love. You could encourage members to discover creative ways to be a light of Christ in their neighborhoods.
Use the emphasis on Valentine’s Day to reflect on God’s love, which motivates you to please Him. Think about the sacrificial love of your Savior, which is deeper and stronger than the love expressed in Valentine’s Day cards. That knowledge should result in an increase in genuine love for others in your church. Then shift your eyes to the world around you, filled with people walking in darkness.