1 John 4:19 “We love because He loved us first.”
God’s gift of love is not primarily about us learning to be more loving. As we grow in grace, we will likely learn to love others more; but first we must learn to receive love. For many of us, this is a problem because we think that the Christian walk is about what we do and what we give. We fail to grasp that we cannot give what we have not received. Quite literally, receiving love must precede giving love.
Accepting God’s love means, in a very practical way, accepting the love of others. To put it another way, if we do not accept the love of people we will find it impossible to actually accept the love of God. And since only God is perfect and His love is the only perfect love, accepting the love of people means accepting imperfect love, which is risky.
Imperfect people loving us imperfectly will sometimes include betrayal and breaches of trust and feeling let down. On the other hand, choosing to trust someone to love us even knowing that there will be moments of let down, opens us up to actually receiving love –both the love of people and the love of God. And as we receive the perfect love of God, we now are able to begin (imperfectly) to love others. We love (imperfectly) because He loves us (perfectly). Receiving precedes giving.