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God’s love is prior, i.e. he loves us first: it is faithful, i.e. he will never withdraw it it is a gift, we have not claim on it, he gives it freely; it is all-powerful, i.e. it cannot be overcome; it does not depend on us, i.e. if we do not respond, or act as we should in its presence, he still loves us; it is prodigal i.e. it gives abundantly; it is self-giving, i.e. his love, God gives himself; it is individual; i.e. it touches each personally; Christian love is a reflection of the divine love, i.e. we are to love others as we have been loved ourselves. If our love is a reflection of his, then our love should reflect the characteristics of his love. How can these characteristics of love be present in our life.

1. Our love must be prior. i.e. we must be ready to love first, not just as a response. We must be willing to take initiatives in love, reach out in love as God did, before others reach out to us. God loved us and reconciled us to himself when we were sinners (2 Cor 5:17-20)i.e. when we were not loving him. We should be willing to reach out to others whether of not they have reached out to us in love. What we have here is a basic attitude of love, a constant reaching out in love.

2. God’s love is gift. Let ours be gift, not just for those who have drawn us, whom we like. It is easy to love those to whom we are naturally drawn. We need to love out of the abundance of God’s love, and not just because we have found someone we love. We should love people no matter who or what they are, and seek out those who may not be loveable in themselves People have a right to our love even if they don’t possess the things that draw us naturally to them.

3. God’s love is not dependent on us. Our love of others should not be dependent on them, i.e. that they do what we want, live up to our expectations. We don’t have a right to stop loving because people don’t live up to our expectations. We must be ready to forgive, not just seven times, but seventy times seven, i.e. continually, like God, we should be ready to go on loving, even when it is not returned.

4. God’s love is individual, particular. It can be easy to love generally; more difficult to love in particular. Love needs to be shaped by the individual, to be formed by its object. God loves us personally, individually, (Gal 2:20). When we love, is our love shaped by the person before us, does it reach out in an individual way, focusing on this person with all the needs this person has?

5. God’s love is faithful. Our love can be too. It won’t run out, because its source is the Lord. Part of our fidelity to him is our fidelity to love others. So long as we are faithful to him, our love for others is assured.

6. God’s love is all-powerful, i.e. no-one can take it away. No one can make us stop loving. His love gives us the perseverance, the endurance to continue to love, even in difficulties. No matter what people do to us, we can still love.

7. God’s love is prodigal, more than we deserve. In our love, do we give a bare minimum? Are we generous, or do we say “I’ve done enough, all that one could be expected to do.”

8. God’s love is self-giving. Do we give ourselves in our Christian love. It is not enough just to do things for people, we should be ready to reach out to them in a way that communicates our self, that shows we are willing to let them share what is our most precious treasure, ourselves.

The christian love described here is costly. Yet how can our love be a reflection of the divine love if it does not bear the characteristics of the divine love? It might seem that this description makes christian love impossible and unattainable. However, it is the divine love, and the power of the divine love helps us to practice it in our life. As this divine love washes over us, it gives us the power to enable it to wash over others. This love costs, yet love as we have been loved is the heart of our faith. It is the one thing that is worthy of our time and effort.

1. “You have heard that it was said,’ you shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of Your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you salute only your brethren, what more arc you doing than -others?
Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matt 5:43-48

2.” As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love…….. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. “John 15:9,12.

3. ” By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? ” 1 John 3:16-17

. ” We love, because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him, that he who loves God should love his brother also.” 1 John 4:19-21..

5. ” You are God’s chosen race, his saints; he loves you , and you should be clothed in sincere compassion, in kindness and humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with one another; forgive each other as soon as a quarrel begins. The Lord has forgiven you; now you must do the same. Over all these clothes, to keep them together and complete them, put on love. And may the peace of Christ reign in your hearts, because it is for this that you were called together as parts of one body.” Col 3:12-17.

6. ” Love is always patient and kind; it is never jealous; love is never boastful or coneeited;, it is never rude or selfish; it does not take offence, and is not resentful. Love takes no pleasure in other people’s sins but delights iti the truth; it is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes. Love does not come to an end.” 1 Cor 13:4-7

7. ” We who are strong have a duty to put up with the qualms of the weak without thinking of ourselves. Each of us should think of his neighbours and help them to become stronger Christians. Christ did not think of himself.” Rom 15:1-3.

8. ” For me there are no forbidden things ‘, but not everything does good. True, there are no forbidden things, but it is not everything that helps the building to grow. Nobody should be looking for his own advantage, but everybody for the other man’s Whatever you eat, whatever you drink, whatever you do at all, do it for the glory of God. Never do anything offensive to anyone – to Jews or Greeks or to the Church of God; just as I try to be helpful to everyone at all times, not anxious for my own advantage but for the advantage of everybody else, so that they may be saved. ” 1 Cor 1:10:23-25;31-33

9. What the Spirit brings is very different: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control. There can be no law against things like that, of course. You cannot belong to Christ Jesus unless you crucify all self-indulgent passions and desires. Since the Spirit is our life, let us be directed by the Spirit We must stop being conceited, provocative and envious.” Gal 22-24

10. Do not let your love be a pretence, but sincerely prefer good to evil. Love each other as much as brothers should, and have a profound respect for each other. Work for the Lord with untiring effort and with great earnestness of spirit. If you have hope, this will make you cheerful. Do not give up if trials come; and keep on praying. If any of the saints are in need you must share with them; and you should make hospitality your special care. ” Rom 12:9-13.