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FIRST-PERSON: Who is the object of your love?

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GAINESVILLE, Ga. (BP)–Valentine’s Day is an occasion when people traditionally give to their “sweethearts” cards, flowers, candy or other expressions of their love. As Christians, we know that the ultimate source of love — and the One who truly gives it meaning — is God.

The Bible tells us that we know love because the Father first loved us (1 John 4:19). It tells us that God is love (1 John 4:8). It is not just what He does, but who He is. And the Bible also tells us who are the objects of God’s love — us! We can probably all quote John 3:16 by heart, which begins with “For God so loved the world.” Because God loved us, He gave us Jesus, who died for our sins. Because God loved, He gave. Let’s look at another person from the Bible who loved and gave.

A FAITH ESTABLISHED

Abraham is probably one of the most famous people in the Bible. We know him as many things — the father of the nation of Israel, a friend of God, a man with great faith. Genesis 12 begins with God telling Abraham (then called Abram) to leave his home, all that was familiar, and to travel to another country. God didn’t even tell him the destination, just that He would show him where to go. What kind of amazing faith did it take for Abraham to obey!

This was the beginning of a great journey for Abraham — not just a physical journey but a spiritual, mental and emotional one as well. Abraham’s faith was tested many times along the way, but perhaps his greatest test was yet to come.

A PROMISE FULFILLED

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God promised to make a great nation of Abraham’s descendents, a great promise indeed considering Abraham and his wife Sarah had no children and both were beyond their child-bearing years. But they believed God, and many years later, at the appointed time, they had a son, Isaac.

A SACRIFICE REQUIRED

One day, God gave Abraham another great command — to sacrifice his son, Isaac, on an altar to the Lord. Isaac was Abraham’s beloved son, a treasure, and a gift from God. Abraham knew what it meant to sacrifice — it would mean killing Isaac, his only hope for descendants. Was God going back on His promise?

Abraham had a long history of trusting God to fall back on. He had seen God provide many times in his past. He believed that Isaac was the fulfillment of God’s promises, and God had never broken His promises before.

And Abraham loved God. So because he loved, he gave. He took Isaac and journeyed to Mount Moriah to make the sacrifice as God had commanded. He built the altar, laid Isaac on it, and raised his knife to kill his only son, his beloved son.

A DIVINE PROVISION

Suddenly, God called to Abraham and told him not to harm Isaac. God was testing Abraham’s obedience and love for Him. The Lord said, “Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son” (Genesis 22:12).

It would be easy for Abraham to love Isaac more than God, to put his son in first place and God in second place. But Abraham proved that he did love God more than his most beloved possession.

In Isaac’s place, God provided a ram for the sacrifice. And so, Abraham called that place Jehovah Jireh, which means “God provides.” Abraham had given his most important possession to God, and God had provided for him.

We can apply this most important lesson in our own lives. What do we love more than God? Have we put our money, our home, our jobs, or even our family in first place in our lives? Carefully examine your heart and see if God still has first place.

God may not ask us to give up any of these things, but it’s good to know that we could. What better way to show our love than to give? Give God ownership of everything, recognize His lordship over all, and be willing to give all for Him. Because we love, we give.
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Chuck Bentley is CEO of Crown Financial Ministries and executive producer of the new God Provides Film Learning Experience. (Learn more at Crown.org/GodProvides.)Co-founded by Howard Dayton and the late Larry Burkett, Crown Financial Ministries (Crown.org) is an interdenominational ministry with 200 staff and over 10,000 volunteers dedicated to equipping people globally with biblically based financial stewardship tools and resources through radio, film, seminars, small groups and individual coaching.