Pouring Out the Love of God

Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Romans 5:5 NKJV
As I have loved you…

What a great idea! My hope is sure because God has poured His love into my heart. The phrase “the love of God” is packed with meaning.  It’s a possessive construction, and it can have several different meanings.  There are other Bible phrases that work the same way.  Think of the expression, “the righteousness of God.” In some places it means the justice that is inherent in the nature of God Himself.  Another verse might be talking about the outworking of that righteousness in action as justice – punishment for the guilty. We often think of it as the new nature that has been imparted to believers.  We are made “the righteousness of God” in Christ.

In an attempt to see what it means to have the love of God poured out in us, let me share a few alternate translations:

  • … our hearts are full of the love of God through the Holy Spirit which is given to us. (Bible in Basic English) 
  • … God’s love has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. (God’s Word)
  • … God’s love for us floods our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Weymouth New Testament) 
  • …And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. (New International Version)
  • …because God has given us the Holy Spirit, who fills our hearts with his love. (Contemporary English Version) 

The verse begins by telling us that our hope in Christ will not be disappointed.  We know this because of this love that is in our hearts. How does the love of God inside us give us confidence that God will see us through to the end of our salvation?  Three different ways of understanding the phrase “the love of God” tell us how:

  • God’s love for me.  Salvation comes when God’s love is revealed to me in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  In fact, that is the primary context of this verse.  Verse 8 tells me that God demonstrated His love for me by offering His Son. When I am tested with thoughts of doubt and unbelief, I have Calvary as a reminder: God loves me.  Problems come, tests are a given, but in the midst, I can trust that God will see me through.  He loves me and I know it. “Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? (Romans 8:32 NLT)”
  • My love for God.  I love God! It’s not normal to love God.  Some folks pretend they don’t believe in Him because His existence is very inconvenient if you want to live in the passions of the flesh. Many of those who admit His existence blame Him for all their troubles. In their minds He is the author of everything, even the bad things.  But the love of God has been poured out in my heart. Because I can see Calvary’s Lamb slain for me, my heart leaps in love for the Father who sent Him to the tree.  I love him because He first loved me (1 John 4:10, 19) The love I have for God, He gave me.  That love is proof that no matter what happens, He will turn it to my good. “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. (Romans 8:28 NLT)”
  • My love for you.  A lot of days, I don’t like people. They do things that inconvenience me, irritate me, even appall me.  And sometimes I speak or act in ways that communicate that attitude.  When I do, something on the inside of me feels sick.  My heart grieves at my own behavior because God has poured His love into my heart.  My new nature is His nature and He is love. When Paul told us to “put on the new man,” he caps off the process with “above all these things put on love. (Colossians 3:9-14)” I have the capacity to love other people because the love of God is in me. It is my nature. (1 John 4:7-8)

This capacity to supernaturally love others, no matter how much I dislike their behavior, gives me confidence that God is working in me.  I know Him, He knows me, and He abides in me.   Something changed in me that allows me to wash the feet of the Judases in my life, just as my example and Savior did (John 13:12-15, 21)  I actually want to be able to look at those who are crucifying me and say, “”Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”  The love of God in me let’s me know I am His.  We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. (1 John 3:14 NKJV)

My big question: In the day we live, as a Christian, is it seemly for me to join in the flood of vitriol that fills social media and the airwaves.   I have some very firm opinions on political issues, and I know I get just as angry as everyone else, but the Jesus on the inside of me doesn’t hate those who hate Him or me.  He poured His love into me so I could pour it out on others.

I don’t like the anger that rises up in me when I hear and read the vile things that are now common in the public sphere. Beginning today, I’m going to pray for those whose behavior and ideas are repulsive to me.  I have been praying for the Iranian leader for a good while.  I even reply to his tweets with loving invitations to know Jesus Christ.  I am adopting the same policy for domestic politicians and activists who inspire my ire. Love, bless, do good, and pray.  Here we go!

“You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father 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?

 Matthew 5:43-46 NKJV

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