“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
“For God so loved the world, He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16
The word “love” in the current use of American culture has taken a serious downgrade. We use it often now with such a shallow meaning that when it is used in the biblical intention, few understand the significance. When our Lord speaks of loving mankind, “agape” in the Greek, it is the highest form of selfless sacrifice that one can make for another. It is a love that considers what is best for the one in mind with a view of commitment and cost. God has proven His love for us, His creations made in His image, with the great sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ. This sacrifice was made for us as sinners so that we can find redemption and fellowship with Almighty God. This is all done at God’s expense. Our salvation is His idea and His provision, not ours! We cannot earn salvation as we could never do enough good in our lives to cover our sin debt or be worthy of the sacrifice made by the sinless Lamb of God. This truth should both humble us and encourage us in that our Heavenly Father desires us to be a people that belong to Him. How will we know if we have truly believed and received this? For starters, it should bear itself out in our love back to God, and to other people, since Christ died for them also. God gave us the two greatest commandments, namely to love Him above all else in this life, and to love our neighbor as ourselves, to show what a true life of faith and gratitude should look like. (Matthew 22:36-40) With the Christmas holiday approaching, Christ and God’s purposes can get lost in all the hoopla of celebrations and festivities that accompany it. Some people get so worked up over the busyness of this time of year and the pressure to get that “perfect” gift for everyone that they lose the true meaning of the coming of Christ. Today, many now hide the real meaning of Jesus coming into this world to avoid offending someone who does not believe. The truth of the gospel message is that Jesus came to die as a sacrifice for us, to redeem us out of the love God has for us. Our response to this great revelation is to receive God’s love and forgiveness, and then to love God other people. Love is sacrifice. Love is selfless sacrifice. Love involves commitment and cost. God has offered it to us, and we are now to offer it to others. This does not mean we condone or approve of what a person does that is against God’s Word and will, but rather we seek to “speak truth in love” and care for the person under God’s leadership. We prove our love for God by obeying Him and giving Him the best of all we have been entrusted with. As 1 John 3:18 states: “Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth”. Love requires action. May each of us choose to show love to both God and people in practical ways this season, and all the days we have left in this life!
Pastor Gary Houdek