Lavish: expending or bestowing profusely (verb); in abundance (adjective)
God loves us lavishly. He bestowed profusely His love, grace and mercy when we did not deserve it and when we should have been punished. As believers, we just came out of a season celebrating the lavish love God bestowed upon us in the birth of Jesus. He left the throne and came down to live and die for those who profess Him as Savior, bearing the punishment our sins deserved and granting eternal life by faith in Him. It is because of this lavish love bestowed upon us, we can love others.
In John 13: 34-35 Jesus introduces a new concept, saying, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” What is new here is not the command to love but the command to love sacrificially. It is a deepening and expanding of the command. Jesus calls us to love just as I have loved you out of selflessness and sacrifice.
We’ve all heard of ‘The Golden Rule.’ It came from Luke 6:31, which states “And as you wish others would do to you, do so to them.” (ESV)
Initially, this might sound similar to Jesus’ commandment in the John passage, but there is a distinction. The golden rule principle is based upon the premise of reciprocity. Those who love us, we tend to love back (and the reverse: those who are harsh toward us, we tend to be harsh back). The ‘golden rule’ shows the human tendency to serve our own best interest by being kind toward others so that we receive kindness back. We gain from what we give. There is nothing particularly noble about following this principle though. It doesn’t demonstrate the sacrificial love God bestowed upon us. The golden rule is but a minimum requirement. The golden rule is not bad—it’s just not enough. Jesus goes on in verses 32 – 34 to make it clear that there is no virtue, benefit, or credit for living according to the same standard as the world. If you love those who love you, anyone can do that. If you do good to only those who do good to you, anyone can do that. And, if you lend money to only those who can pay you back, well, anyone can do that. Jesus calls us to a higher standard.
The Christian is to surpass the world’s minimum standard in the matter of loving others. The saint must also love the ‘difficult’ people and those who hate him. We are not only to give love for love, and good for good, we are to love our enemies, and to return good for evil. Love and generosity toward all; not reciprocity.
When you truly grasp your own depravity and the profuse love given through Jesus Christ, as your sin rested upon him and he hung on the cross in your place, separated from the Father to lavish grace and mercy on you, you will be able to love beyond the golden rule minimum.
You can only do the things Jesus calls you to do – love others as He loves, do good, bless others, pray for, not repay evil for evil, give without expecting a return – when you decide to follow Jesus, recognizing your own sin and need for forgiveness. You must determine you would rather be like Jesus than the ‘world.’ The world has a different standard of behavior, and the world’s way has never been God’s way. Romans 12:2 tells us not to be conformed to this world. The world would have you believe that rather than choosing love, kindness, and compassion, it’s okay to withdraw, retaliate, punish someone who has wronged you, withhold forgiveness, and only extend generosity if it will be reciprocated. In God’s economy, we are called to expend selfless, sacrificial, and lavish love.
So, rather than the minimum…
- Invite without expecting an invitation back.
- Give for no other reason than to bestow love.
Additionally, when you find yourself in the midst of betrayals, social media attacks, and losses… when dealing with wayward & rebellious children, unbelieving spouses and family members, absentee parents, in-laws, co-workers, difficult teachers, coaches and frenemies, in marriages hanging on by a thread, in unmet expectations, angry words, hurtful words, lies told about you, and miscommunications, in arguments and feuds that have lasted so long you can’t even remember how they began, in all types of situations and with all types of people… love others like Jesus loves you: sacrificially.
Never stop loving, never stop doing good.
Until Jesus takes you home…Love one another…Love Lavishly!
Author Jodi Ross is the
Women’s Ministry Director at MVF