“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
God loved us so much that He gave his Son, Jesus Christ, as a sacrifice for our sins. He didn’t tell us with empty rhetoric about His love for us; He didn’t explain His love for us; He didn’t demand that we love Him first. God loves us so much that He gave us the most precious gift that He could – His Son.
Love is first and foremost an action.
It is an act of sacrificial giving.
We are reminded of this fact throughout Scripture:
- “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,” Galatians 1:3-4
- “And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 5:2
- “waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” Titus 2:13-14
All Christ followers we were once enemies of Him. Our relationship with Him was completely and utterly broken – and we were 100% to blame for that. And as such He could have chosen to hate us and condemn us to Hell. But since we are without love in our flesh, it would be impossible for us to reconcile our relationship with Him. And since God is love (1 John 4:7-9), He did what only He could do. He humbled Himself and restored and reconciled our relationship with Him. He saved us and made us alive – through the sacrificial action of Jesus Christ – and He is to receive 100% of the glory for that miracle (Ephesians 2:1-10).
So what should our response be?
The two parts of the great commandment are to love God and love our neighbors (Luke 10:27). And we can now do that since we have the power of the Holy Spirit living within us. But how are we to demonstrate that love, and what should our motivation for love be? We need look no further than to the model of perfect human living – Jesus Christ. We are to sacrifice those things that elevate us and the world, in favor for those things that elevate God and His Kingdom. And we are to do this for the good of other people and for His glory.
We do this by taking up our cross daily and putting our selfish desires to death. That is what the cross was invented for – as an instrument of death – and it is what Jesus has instructed us to do (Luke 9:23). And we are to give ourselves to God (our time, our resources, our knowledge, etc.) so that He may be glorified through us, for the benefit of other people. Some examples (countless examples could be listed in each category ) include:
- Sacrificing comfort – Getting up an hour earlier each morning to spend time with God in prayer and in Bible reading (Mark 1:35).
- Sacrificing time – Forgoing “me” time (time spent on Facebook, in front of the TV, or playing video games) and replacing it with time discipling your children, a friend, a co-worker (Mark 6:30-34).
- Sacrificing resources – Taking what you have and sharing it, even when it doesn’t seem like you have enough to meet your needs – let alone other people’s needs (Mark 6:35-44, 1 Kings 17:8-16, Luke 21:1-4 Matthew 6:31-33).
- Sacrificing our rights – After a long day at work giving up your “right” to come home and relax and instead coming alongside your loved ones to help meet their needs (1 Corinthians 9:19-23, Ephesians 5:21, Luke 17:7-10)
We are commanded to love even when we don’t feel like it and especially when we don’t feel like it (1 John 3: 11-24, Matthew 5:43-48). On our own strength and through our own power we are incapable of biblical love. However, for those that are in Christ, we have the power (Holy Spirit) to love and the wisdom (Bible) to know how to demonstrate love. How can you utilize those gifts today?
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© 2016 Michael Martin