Reciprocal Love

“’Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?’ And He said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”—Matthew 22:36–39 (NASB)

People often determine life’s purpose in measures: a measure of success or personal gain; a measure of usefulness or personal development. It’s what we can achieve, become, or do that fuels the value we have in ourselves, our families, or our jobs.

For Christians, there is a deeper desire to know God’s purpose for our lives. While it’s tempting to measure our value by what we achieve, God places greater value and purpose into one word: LOVE.

If love is the core of our purpose, what does that look like? I think if we’re ever to examine anything God asks of us, our standard should be Jesus. How did He fulfill God’s purpose for Him on this side of eternity? How did He love our Father and others? What we discover is the reciprocity of love.

In John 5:30 (NKJV), Jesus demonstrates how to love by saying, “I can of Myself do nothing . . . because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.” Seeking the will of God can apply to overcoming obstacles or difficulties. But, let’s face it, sometimes love has its obstacles and can be difficult. Yet, Jesus prayed we would be one with God just as He is (John 17:21). With our faith in Jesus, we are rooted and established in love (Ephesians 3:17). When we seek His will to love, God makes it possible.

Paul also taps into Jesus’ pathway to love. Ephesians chapter four ends with actions we can take to please God. Then, in chapter five, Paul offers a condensed method: walk in love. Imitate the love God has for you, see the extravagant love Jesus has for us, and sacrificially mirror that to the people around you (Ephesians 5:1–2).

Perhaps the most daunting idea of how to love is in the Book of Matthew where Jesus presents challenges regarding going the extra mile and loving our enemies (Matthew 5:38–48). At the end, He calls us to be perfect just as our Father is perfect. “In other words,” writes Oswald Chambers, “show to the other person what God has shown you . . . deliberately identify yourself with God’s interest in other people.” Love one another as Jesus loves us to demonstrate what true discipleship means (John 13:34–35).

We see through the lens of Jesus that love is reciprocal. When we show love to others, we show God we love Him by following His will, imitating Him, and demonstrating His immeasurable love to others. It’s a daily journey for us to ultimately unite into the full measure and stature of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 4:13).

Pause: How do you measure your value in God’s eyes? Where does love play into that?

Practice: If acts of love or feeling love are difficult for you, ask God to change your heart. Pray to love Him and others more. Use this love to tell people about the gospel of Jesus (Mark 16:15).

Pray: Father, I know it’s Your will and desire for me to love You and others. In areas where I fail, stir and convict my heart. I want to love You more. Bring to my mind the immeasurable love You have for me so I can freely and joyfully extend it to others. Amen.

About the Author

Lisa Supp

Lisa Supp lives in Utah and has served within the CCFL Web and Prayer Ministry since 2011. She also volunteers as an editor on the CCFL Prayer Wall and is a writer on the Communications Team. Retired from teaching, Lisa and her husband Ron volunteer at their local Calvary Chapel and share a passion for Scripture, apologetics, and education.