A phrase of a song caught my attention, longing for “tokens of your love”. We spend a lot of time at Christmas and birthdays trying to think of ways to express our love to those who are close to us. How often is our choice determined by the response we hope to elicit?
What is a token? It is a thing serving as a visible or tangible representation of a fact, quality, feeling, etc., often given in appreciation, or as an expression of love, as the song goes. Have you ever thought about what tokens God has given to you, of His love? Perhaps while we are defining words we need to define love. What is love? One dictionary says love is “an intense feeling of deep affection”. Wikipedia expands on that:
“Love encompasses a range of strong and positive emotional and mental states, from the most sublime virtue or good habit, the deepest interpersonal affection, to the simplest pleasure.
Theologians try to explain Biblical love, by using many different words. “Love” in the Bible can’t be summed up with just a single word… “there are six different words that can be translated as love, and that doesn’t account for variants and compound words! The more literal translations of the Bible, such as the NASB, have more like 300 mentions of the word “love” because they often translate the Greek and Hebrew into more nuanced words than simply, ‘love’.”
The Apostle Paul devoted a whole chapter to describing what love looks like (1 Corinthians 13). It may be fair to say it takes a life-time to understand the complexities of love. However, one thing is made clear in scripture. “God is love” and “we love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:16, 19). Out of the abundance of His own character, God equips us to love Him. Once we have His love abiding in our hearts, we are enabled to love other people in the same way as God loves us.
Tokens of God’s love can actually be seen – they are visible qualities produced by the Holy Spirit living in us. We become more peaceable for one thing; we’ve already established our ability to love others takes on a new look. Does that mean we can love without expecting something back? Loving God’s way produces joy deep within our own hearts, because it is purely in the interests of another human being. How many of us have achieved this? Let us remember “With God all things are possible”. Those are the words of our Lord Jesus recorded by Matthew (19:26).
Have you ever experienced the deep inner satisfaction of doing something good? Perhaps you were gentle or kind when someone was troubled. This brings comfort and encouragement, tokens of love to another human being in distress. Faithfulness is also described by Paul as part of the fruit of the Spirit. There are many people living out their testimony of love in difficult circumstances, believing it is the right thing to do, for Jesus’ sake. I know someone personally who has dedicated her life to the ministry of faithfulness, which takes patience and self-control. One cannot accomplish this without God.
We don’t need to, nor can we, generate the love which is sourced in God alone. Anything else pales by comparison. Perhaps this is why love relationships in our world today are in so much trouble, extinguished by the smallest trifle. Biblical love “keeps no record of wrongs”. When God forgives He forgets our past sins, moving us forward into a brighter and better future. Will we do that for those who have wronged us? God’s love “rejoices in the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (1 Corinthians 13:5b-7). Let us pray that we can pass on to others these wonderful tokens of God’s love for us!
by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)