Yesterday I heard my 3 year old daughter sing “Jesus loves me.” I love listening to her belt out a tune. I just stood and listened to her sing the familiar song, “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so…” She was doing awesome, she had the right melody and all the right words. The only time she had any trouble was when she got to the part that ordinarily affirms Jesus’ love and the line “yes, Jesus loves me, yes, Jesus loves me…” is repeated. At that point she began to sing a less confident version, “I guess Jesus loves me, I guess Jesus loves me…” I laughed to myself over how similar the two sound and how easily the mistake could be made.
After thinking about it for a bit, though, the mistake became less cute and more sad. My little girl’s rendition of the song is probably a more accurate portrayal of most people’s faith in God’s love for them. As Christians we talk about God’s love a great deal. “Smile, God loves you!” We see it on Sunday School material, t-shirts, pencils, and bumper stickers. And it’s true, God does love you! It is easy to proclaim God’s love for someone else. But when it comes to God loving us, we aren’t so quick on the draw.
1 John 4:19 says, “We love, because He first loved us.” I have a theory. If the enemy can place doubts in our mind about God’s love for us, then he can keep us from genuinely loving others and God. “We love because He first loved us.” My love for God and others flows out of the fact that God loves me. Once I begin to doubt God’s love for me the flow is stopped. I am left to offer God and others my own love; a shallow love that I have to muster up and is based on my will power. The only thing needed to short cicuit this whole flow of love is a little doubt in our own “lovability.” Comparing yourself to others, dwelling on past mistakes or even a little false humility can be enough to raise questions in one’s mind about just how lovable they are to God. No matter how it gets in, once it is in, doubt will rob you of enjoying the fact that God loves YOU. It will also keep you from being able to respond to His love by loving Him in return and loving others. However, we have authentic, genuine, overflowing love to share when, in faith, we confidently accept that, “yes, Jesus loves me.”
Why do I love? Because He first loved ME!