Do you remember mood rings? They were popular a long time ago. They changed color according to the mood of the wearer. (It was actually according to body temperature, but sellers tried to pass it off as a mood change, and they made a lot of money.)
What if someone made “love of God” rings that indicated the level of love the wearer feels for God? And what if everyone had to wear them? If black was the color that indicated no love for God, and white was the color that indicated overflowing love for God, I imagine that a lot of people we see on the streets would have varying shades of grey—and some of those people would even be Christians.
Is it possible to measure a person’s love for God? The writer of 1 John seemed to think so. He said in 1 Jn. 4:20-21: For whoever does not love their brother & sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother & sister. The level of a person’s love for God is in direct proportion to his level of love for other people.
I was driving down road recently when I saw a car in the oncoming lane suddenly stop in the middle of the road. The driver got out and walked in front of his parked car where he leaned over to look at something. He had a towel in his hand, & using the towel like a glove, he reached down & picked up a little featherless baby bird & carried it over to the nearby bushes, where it had fallen from its nest. If he hadn’t stopped to rescue the baby bird, it would have probably been run over & flattened like a pancake. But this man went out of his way & took great pains to carefully handle the bird & return it to a place of safety in the nearby bushes.
I thought, “What a wonderful illustration of how we should treat people!” All our interpersonal relationships should come with a label that says: Handle With Care. Paul told the brethren in 1 Thess. 2:7-8: As apostles of Christ…we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. Mothers treat their little children with kindness and compassion, with tenderness and care.
Think of Jesus’ relationship with his apostles. Think of their many weaknesses and how often they disappointed Jesus. If he wanted to, Jesus could have spent every waking moment telling the apostles what was wrong with them—but he didn’t. Instead of constantly rebuking, he was constantly loving and forgiving. He was constantly tender & kind. One of his closest apostles would later say in 1 Pt. 4:8: Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Jesus handled his disciples with care—because he loved them.
If you really want to evaluate your love-level, try measuring it against 1 Cor. 13:4-8 which says: Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.