"I would know God loves me if _________."
Fill in the blank.
What did you say?
If he healed someone you love?
If he got you through the tough time you’re in?
If he gave you something you really need in life right now?
“Love” is a pretty popular idea in our culture today. We even have an entire day dedicated to celebrating love, and it’s rapidly approaching (yes, Valentine’s Day is in two weeks...men, plan accordingly). Yet, “love” has also become an extremely overused word, leading to much confusion about what it actually means. In fact, if you asked 10 people to define love, you’d probably get 10 different answers.
But how does the Bible define love? Consider Romans 5:8:
“God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Did you catch that? God shows (present tense) his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died (past tense) for us.
So what did you put in the blank? Sorry, it was kind of a trick question! The truth is this: we can know God loves us because while we were sinners, Christ died for us. If you doubt God’s love for you, look no further than the cross of Christ. You can know today that God loves you because he gave the ultimate gift for you 2,000 years ago in Jesus Christ.
Here are four amazing truths that should transform the way we think about God’s love toward us and the way we love others.
Love Takes Action
Praise God that his love toward us wasn’t just a mushy feeling like two people who meet on The Bachelor. God didn’t show his love by describing a feeling, but by taking action. We don’t have to wonder if the Bible is true when it claims, “God is love.” We know “God is love” because he entered human history as a man to show us.
I had a friend once tell me that he often prayed for God to help him “show love to his wife more.” As he grew in his understanding of Biblical love, he began to change his prayers. He began praying, “God, help me actually love my wife more.” What a good way of thinking about it! The best way we can truly love others is by taking action.
Love is Sacrifice
Yes, love takes action, but not just any action. God’s love toward us is sacrificial. A good way to tell how much someone wants something is to see how much they’re willing to pay for it. With God, no price was too high. The Father and Son had existed in perfect unity for all eternity, yet on the cross Jesus cried out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” God loves you so much that he was willing to sacrifice his only Son to spend eternity with you.
God’s Love is Unconditional
Let’s be honest; our love is mostly conditional. We love others best when they’re nice to us or when we can get something from them. But God’s love is unconditional; he didn’t love us because we first loved him. In fact, “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Love Finds Joy in the Other
What’s the difference between love and unselfishness? I love the way C.S. Lewis describes it:
If you asked twenty good men today what they thought the highest of the virtues, nineteen of them would reply, Unselfishness. But if you asked almost any of the great Christians of old he would have replied, Love - You see what has happened? A negative term has been substituted for a positive, and this is of more than philological importance.
The negative ideal of Unselfishness carries with it the suggestion not primarily of securing good things for others, but of going without them ourselves, as if our abstinence and not their happiness was the important point.”
Jesus didn’t die for you because he’s merely unselfish toward you. He died for you because he loves you -- he finds his joy in your joy.
I encourage you to spend this Valentine’s Day season reflecting deeply on God’s love for you and dreaming about how God’s love for you can empower you to love others.