Theme : Whose Love Is Perfect?
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
When I was the president of my youth ministry, I used to preach hard and strong messages, telling my youths, “You’ve got to love God! You’ve got to love the Lord with all your heart, all your mind, and all your soul!” All that time, when I was preaching this to the young people, I was wondering to myself, “How in the world do I do that?”
I would look at myself and check my heart, mind, and soul—did I really love the Lord that perfectly? How could I expect my youths to love the Lord that way when I knew that I myself had failed?
At that time, I was not established in the new covenant of grace yet. I did not know that by preaching that way, I was actually placing all my youths under the law because the sum total of the law is to love God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength (Matt. 22:37–40, Mark 12:29–30).
Let me ask you this: Has anybody ever been able to love the Lord with all his heart, mind, and soul? No one. Not a single person has been able to do that. God knew all the while that under the law, no one could love Him that perfectly. So do you know what He did? The Bible says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son . . .” I love that little word “so.” It speaks of the intensity with which God loves us.
When God sent Jesus, He was effectively saying this to us: “I know that you can’t love Me perfectly, so watch Me now. I will love you with all My heart, all My soul, all My mind, and all My strength.” And He stretched His arms wide and died for us. This is what the Bible says about what Jesus did on the cross: “For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die.
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him” (Rom. 5:7–9).
My friend, the cross is not a demonstration of our perfect love and devotion to God. The cross is God’s demonstration of His perfect love and His perfect grace (unmerited favor) toward us, for it was while we were still sinners that Jesus died for us. He did not die for you and me because of our perfect love for God. He died for you and me because of HIS perfect love for us!
Let me give you the Bible’s definition of love to make this even clearer for you: “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). Beloved, that’s the emphasis of the new covenant of grace (unmerited favor)—HIS love for us, not our love for Him!
As we raise up a new generation of believers, let us raise up a generation that is impacted by God’s unmerited favor and that boasts in His love for us. When we receive His love for us and start believing that we are His beloved, look at the result that 1 John 4:11 spells out: “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” Notice that the love for one another comes after our experience of His love for us! It stems from an overflow.
You cannot love others when you have not first been filled by His love. And when you are overflowing with His love, you will fulfill the law effortlessly without even trying because God’s Word tells us, “Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law” (Rom. 13:10).
Step into that river today. Change the quality of your relationships by believing and being conscious of the fact that you are His beloved!
This devotional is taken from the book 100 Days of Favor—Daily Readings from Unmerited Favor.