Every time I sit down to read or listen to Scripture lately, the word Beloved jumps out. Not some general greeting, not some non-descript hello, but “Beloved.”
I know there are a million other ways to address the reader, but right now, beloved is the way I am being addressed.
It’s made me wonder. What does it mean to be beloved? Is it more than being loved? Is it different? Why is this so important right now?
The verses that I have read are generally pieces of advice given to someone who is trying their best to follow God’s will.
“Beloved, do not trust every spirit but test the spirits to see whether they are of God”
1 John 4: 1
“Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God.”
1 John 4:7
“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another.”
1 John 4:11
These aren’t authoritative commands but gentle guidance from a deep sense of devotion and love. They draw us in because they are safe. We are loved and loved dearly.
I love this tender, gracious approach. I don’t like being yelled at – I don’t think any of us do. Being reminded of how much I am loved allows me to listen more intently to the words that follow.
And still, I wondered what this was for. What was I supposed to do with this “Beloved” theme?
And then I heard the Gospel of Luke.
And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
The love I felt in the verses I had read before helped this one verse jump off the page. “My beloved Son.” This is the one who was given for our sins. This is the one who would be brutally tortured and killed because we are so loved. Not a simple offering, but the best there was to give. God could have given us anything, but He gave His beloved Son.
What do we give to God in return?
In the Old Testament, people were called to sacrifice the “first fruits of their labor.” Their best grain, choicest animal, an unblemished lamb. Even now, we are asked to give best to God, not just our leftovers.
Why? Why should we give our best to God? Why should we place Him first?
Today it is simple. We place Him first because He placed us first. He gave His only beloved Son. If we accept and understand the gift, how could we not want to give our best in return?
Tell me, what do you give in return for the gift you have been given in Jesus? Have you ever thought about it that way?