GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD THAT HE GAVE . . .
These words begin probably the most recognized verse in the Bible. They also provide a quick way to define our love.
I have never talked to anyone that felt they were not a loving person. Some may not have used the word love. Instead, they might have said they were caring, looking out for others, concerned, helping others or other descriptions rather than the LOVE word. I am sure that everyone reading this would consider themselves as a loving person.
Here is the dilemma — If everyone considers themselves to be loving, why don’t we see more love in our world? I believe that we define the word love to fit our actions rather than let the meaning of the word define our actions.
I believe that at the end of a day most people would like to think that they had been loving toward others. However, if we are using a water downed definition of the word love to measure our actions against, we will only be deceiving ourselves.
Looking back at John 3:16 we can see some keywords that will bring clarity to our definition.
God so loved . . . HE GAVE
Love involves giving. At the close of a day if I want to measure how much I loved others I should reflect on how often I gave to others. Sadly, most of us want to receive from others before we give anything. It leads to a definition of love which is selfish. We think we love someone because of how they make us feel when we are with them. It’s really no different from when we say we love our favorite food. I thoroughly enjoy the sensation it delivers to my taste buds. Love involves giving a part of us away to someone. It could be something we own, putting our reputation on the line, or something as simple as time away from something we already had planned.
The other keyword is WORLD
Love must be shown to all people the same. It is not love if you treat some people with kindness and withhold it from others. It is easy to love people who love us first or people who agree with us. In Luke 6:32 Jesus Christ said, “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.” The key to loving this way is to see everyone as God does. He sees us all as human beings in need of love. It doesn’t matter what language we speak, our nationality, the color of our skin or our social class we all deserve to be loved.
Because God loved us it cost Him greatly as He came to live in the flesh and become a sacrifice for us. You might think that is something God can do, but He doesn’t expect that from us. 1 John 3:16 says the exact opposite. “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.” For believers, it is Jesus Christ’s life that serves as an example for us. It is His love that dwells within us through His Spirit. It is for His glory that we choose to deny our own pleasures and give ourselves to others without expecting anything in return.
Before we fall asleep tonight let’s use this way to measure if we loved people or not.