Family Valentine’s Day Devotion – He Did It First!

1John419Verse to Remember:  We love because he loved us first. – 1 John 4:19 (NIrV)

Terrific Truth:  We can share Jesus’ love by putting others first.

If you have a brother or sister, you know how important the word first can be.  After all, siblings can be really competitive.  Maybe you’ve heard some of these phrases around your house:

  • I want to go first.
  • I get first pick.
  • Let me have the first piece.
  • No fair!  Why is she always first?

Or how about this one?  Have you ever blamed something you did on your brother or sister because they did it to you first?  Whether it was saying unkind words, making mean faces or hitting each other, kids having been using that excuse for years.

It goes like this.  One kid yells, “Mom, she pushed me!”

Immediately the other replies, “Well, she pushed me first!”

Like that makes it okay!  We all know it doesn’t, but sometimes we use that excuse anyway to try to get ourselves out of trouble.

Okay, so those are some bad ways we use the word first, but what would you say if I told you you could actually use the word first in a good way?  In fact, the Bible tells us that the phrase, “He did it first!” can be an excuse to do all kinds of good things.

1 John 4:19 says, “We love because he loved us first” (NIrV).  Jesus’ friend John wrote this about Jesus.  He’s saying that Jesus’ love should be our example for how we treat others.

Remember, Jesus loves people who no else loves.  Jesus loves people who were mean to him.  Jesus loves people who’ve done wrong things.  Jesus loves everyone all the time no matter what.

Here’s the crazy part.  Jesus’ love gives us the power to love others in the same way.

One simple way to love others is by putting them first.  Let your brother have the first piece of cake.  Let your sister pick the first toy.  Let someone else go first in the board game.

They may look at you like you’re crazy, and may be confused why you are being so kind and loving.  If they are, just point to the Bible and explain, “He did it first!”

Put It Into Action:  Take a whole week letting others go first and see what happens.

Prayer:  Jesus, thank you for loving me every day no matter what.  Please help me to love other people in the same way.  Amen.

Sign up for Jason’s Family Devotional Newsletter to receive free family devotions delivered straight to your inbox.   The seven-week Easter series, Best Surprise Ever, starts February 14th. 

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Love Seat

chair

My wife has wanted Adirondack chairs for as long as I can remember, but we could never afford the fancy wooden ones.   When I spotted a couple of cheap plastic chairs on sale at Home Depot last week I decided to surprise her.  I couldn’t wait to see the look on her face.

I sneaked them into the yard, went in the house and dragged her out back for the big reveal.  It was like those car commercials you see around Christmas where the guy leads his wife into the driveway and unveils the new Lexus with a big, red bow on it.  She usually gasps, screams, hugs him, that sort of thing.  I didn’t have a red bow for the chairs, but thought it would go down pretty much the same way.

“Aw, that’s sweet,” she said, but she said it like a mom whose kids just served her burnt toast for Mother’s Day.  “I really appreciate it.”

I could tell a “but” was coming.

“But . . . I just don’t think brown is going to work back there,” she explained.  How could brown not work?  We had dirt, mulch and a wooden play-set.  Plenty of brown.
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Getting to the Bottom of Love

As soon as I got out of the car, I knew I was in trouble.  I felt a cool breeze on the seat of my pants.  Uh oh, I thought, ripped jeans.   I reached back to see how bad it was but couldn’t find any hole.  No breaches in my britches.  No rips, no tears, nothing.  I thought I must be imagining things. 

A normal person would probably have investigated further, but I was in a hurry.  I had a boatload of work to do so I shrugged it off and ran into the cafe.  I had my laptop and only a couple of hours to knock out a serious amount of writing.  By the time I’d found a table and set up my stuff, I’d forgotten all about my little problem.

Then I went up to order a drink.  At the counter.  In front of every customer in the place.  That’s when I noticed that pesky breeze again.  Not good.  I casually investigated, pretending to reach for my wallet, but still couldn’t feel a thing.  

Despite my lack of evidence, I couldn’t escape the sneaking suspicion that something had gone terribly wrong south of the border.  A quick trip to the restroom confirmed my worst fears – a five inch rip right down the rear of my jeans.  Five inches!  Think Grand Canyon in denim.  Now what was I supposed to do?

If I’d been four, I would have yelled for my mom. At forty, I called my wife.  “Uh, honey, I have a situation.”  She wasn’t surprised.  I always have a situation.   Fifteen minutes later, though, she came to my rescue with a new pair of pants. 

It made me think about how the Bible says that love never fails.  Of course my wife was going to come bail me out.  That’s what we do.  It didn’t matter that she had her hands full with a 3 year old to drop off at preschool and a job to get to soon after that.  When one of us is stuck, the other comes to the rescue.  Even in the most embarrassing situations in life, that’s what love does. 

Around Valentine’s Day every year, we hear a lot of talk about what we call love, but usually it’s not love at all.  It’s selfish infatuation.  It’s all about how you make me feel or what you can do for me.  We talk about falling in love, falling out of love and losing that loving feeling.  But the fact is, you can’t lose real love.  You don’t fall into it.  You don’t fall out of it.  You choose it. 

That’s why love never fails.  It’s based on a choice, not a feeling.  The choice to love is to choose to be committed to the good of the person you love no matter what bone-headed thing they do.  Sure, feelings of passion and affection comes along for the ride, but sometimes they dry up.  Love, however, keeps on going.

When I was at my worst, God chose to love me, and trust me, he’s seen it all.  He was there in my greatest moments, and He was there in my lowest.

If you think standing in a restaurant showing off your backside is humiliating, imagine how it feels to stand before a perfect God with all of your life fully exposed before Him. 

And yet, instead of condemning me, God came to my rescue.  He covered my shame.  He gave me new clothes.  That’s what love does.  It rescues.  It bails us out.  No matter what we’ve done or where we’ve been, love never fails.

God’s love never fails because God never fails, and He is committed to you.

Maybe instead of sending someone a Valentine’s Day card this year, a better way to celebrate would be to show them some good old-fashioned selfless love.  Forgive someone who doesn’t deserve it.  Overlook an embarrassing mistake.  Come to someone’s rescue who would otherwise be hopelessly up a creek without you. 

And if you see a guy in a coffee shop with the seat ripped out of his pants, pretend like you didn’t.  I’m sure his wife will thank you later.