She [Hagar] gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me (Genesis 16:13).
In a series of lessons on “Loving the Lord’s Way” I recently told the story of Hagar to illustrate God’s love. Hagar is significant. Though a slave in the household of Abraham, she nonetheless is the only person in the Old Testament to give God a name — and she does it on the basis of her experience with God’s love.
My first point was that before the Bible ever uses the term “love” to refer to something God does, God acts in a loving way. He does it by seeing people in their distress taking note of it, and acting in caring ways toward them to relieve their pain. Notice that Hagar was not of God’s family. She was an Egyptian, and a slave. But God had his eye on her and showed love to her. It was but the merest foretaste of His love to come.
The second point was that if God calls us to love others as He has loved us – and He has – we must begin with His example: to see people in their distress, take note of it, and act as we can to relieve their suffering.
But there is a third point.
People come to know God’s love by seeing it in us first. It will do no good to talk about God’s love if we will not show it. Until then, it’s just talk. The talk becomes real to others in our actions.