A beautiful picture of God’s love for us is found in Zephaniah 3:17. I find the sentiment of this passage so encouraging, that I have a calligraphy print of it hanging over the fireplace in my living room. In this one verse we learn much about God’s love toward us and about how we should love others. “The Lord your God is with you, the mighty warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; He will quiet you with His love and will rejoice over you with singing.”
First, consider what we learn about God’s love from each phrase in this verse.
The Lord your God is with you.
God is with us. He walks with us. He goes through life with us. We are not alone.
He is the mighty warrior who saves.
God is the one who saves us. He is THE mighty warrior. No one is greater in strength or ability than God. He fights for us. He will not fail in battle.
He will take great delight in you.
God delights in you. Do you believe that? God takes great delight in you! He enjoys you!
He will quiet you with His love.
God will bring peace to your heart. He will quiet you like Jesus calmed the storm on the sea. Perfect love casts out fear (I John 4:18). God IS love, and He brings peace to our hearts.
He will rejoice over you with singing.
God rejoices over you! He sings over you! Have you ever really considered that truth? Can you picture God singing over you, rejoicing over you? What a beautiful picture of His love!
Now, think about how this picture of God’s love translates to how we love others.
Loving others means being with them.
If we’re going to love like God loves, we need to invest time walking beside people, letting them know that they are not alone. We show love by spending time with people. Sometimes investing time with others means making personal sacrifices. Jesus certainly exemplified personal sacrifice in this way.
Loving others means pointing them to the mighty Warrior who saves.
Ultimately, the most loving thing we can do for another person is to point them to the Savior. God alone saves, but we can be the means by which others come to know about Him. We must proclaim the greatness of our God before a world that desperately needs to know our Almighty Warrior.
Loving others means delighting in them.
People can tell when you really care about them. Genuine love is obvious. Delight in getting to know people, ask them questions, and hear their stories. By doing so, you are loving them the way God loves us. He knows us. Luke 12:7 tells us that God knows the very number of hairs on our heads. He knows us intimately and takes joy in us. Love people for who they are as creations of God.
Loving others means quieting them with your love.
While only God can bring perfect comfort and the peace that passes our understanding (Philippians 4:7), we can be ministers of peace by our presence with people. Often times what people need is not eloquent words or a theological explanation for their circumstances but rather simply our quiet presence with them as a means of comfort and solace. Again, we need to be willing to invest time with people, even if all we are doing is sitting quietly by them.
Loving others means rejoicing over them with singing.
Romans 12:15 tells us that we should rejoice with those who rejoice. Do you celebrate and even sing in rejoicing with the people around you? We should lovingly celebrate with others. Just as people sometimes need our silent presence in times of mourning or trial, they also need us to rejoice with them in times of celebration and give thanks to God with them.
While we can never love perfectly like God does, we can seek to emulate God’s love in how we interact with others. First of all, be encouraged as you read the words of this Old Testament prophet. Realize how great God’s love is for you. Consider all the ways in which He loves you. Then prayerfully consider how God would have you to love like He does. Invest time with others and let them know they are not alone. Point them to the One who can save them. Delight in each unique person you encounter. Minister to them both in quietness and in rejoicing. Use Zephaniah 3:17 as a guide for how to love, and you are certain to make a difference in the lives of others for the glory of God.