"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
When this verse is truly understood, it becomes more than a definition of love; it becomes motivation to perform in love. It becomes a guideline for what it means to serve God and His creation. When God saw man’s spiritual needs, He came to us in love, willing to sacrifice what He held dear, for our spiritual benefit. This revelation opened the door to how we define love. He opened our hearts, minds and hands to a life guided by this divine authority of His love. In fact, He opened the door for us to be loved: “We love, because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
We do not have to get too technical in our discussion of this text to understand true love. Right out of the gate it is easy to see that true love motivates sacrificial giving. It is amazing how many will say they love God but are not willing to sacrifice anything, let alone everything, for His purpose. Oh, there are many that may “give” but it is a limited giving. Some give what they feel they can without any hardships but are not willing to make any sacrifice to see God pleased. Their heart may feel good about this way of giving but the heart is not a good guide for serving our God: “The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). God’s love does not count the cost of what is given to make our lives better.
The next observation we can make about love is that it provides a way to a better life. God delivered His grace through His loving Son to a world that had no clue of how to live in a way that is pleasing to Him (Titus 2:11-14). When God’s love is working in our hearts then we are changing what we believe. The church is structured in a divine way to produce divine results (Ephesians 4:10-16). Our definition of belief has been changed from a common knowledge of God to an intimate relationship with Him and a desire to accomplish what God’s love is working to produce within us. We are convinced, convicted and converted by the love God has bestowed on His creation. God’s love provides the sacrifice needed to wash away the effects of sin.
One more observation of love that can be extracted from this passage is that God’s love touches us eternally. God is a loving Creator that loves every soul. But, God loving us is not enough as we must receive His love to take full benefit of its power. When we believe in God’s love then we allow it to take control of our heads, hearts and hands. We surrender the person we once were for the “new creation” God is trying to produce in us. Paul reminds us that for love to accomplish this we must “die daily” (1 Corinthians 15:31). God did not send His love for mankind to remain in the lifestyle that kept them separated from enjoying the full benefit of receiving this love. He sent it to change who we are inside to reveal to us the deception of the evil one that persuades us to live according to the desires of our flesh. This life lived according to the flesh is slowly decaying because it is not protected by the grace that is wrapped in God’s love.
We do not have to be rocket scientists or brain surgeons to understand the truth of God’s love. But we must open our minds, hearts and hands to intimately know the Son and the eternal life that His love is working to produce in us. If we are to become wise, we must first open our lives to the love of God that will give us the power to live in a way that He will find acceptable.
In His Love,