For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
As we start a new 30 day devotional series we are going to focus our attention on a little word called love. Love is something that we all crave and many of us spend our lives searching for but what is this thing called love? As with any word, people can perceive different meanings. If I ask you to come to my house for dinner, some of you would show up at noon, others around 6pm. The same is true with the word love, there are many different meanings. There is romantic love, brotherly love, parental love, love for our pets and many more. John 3:16 is the most famous bible verse of all and it not only declares God’s love to a lost world but what the love of God is:
“For God so loved the world”
The word world doesn’t just speak about the scope of God’s love but how unconditional it is. The Greek word for world means the whole mass of men alienated from God and hostile to the cause of Christ. This is the world that God loved, it doesn’t say that God loved all the good people or that God loved all the saints. God loved the unlovable. That fact that God loved the world only heightens the mystery of this love. God loved a wayward world which failed to recognize Him (John 1:10) but openly hated His approach to it (15:18). We are a poor choice for love but God’s love isn’t based on our spiritual condition or our moral predisposition. It isn’t based on our behavior or our attitude toward him, instead His love for mankind is universal and unconditional, He loves everyone. This one truth is what sets Him apart from every other god held up by every other world religion. Because Christianity uniquely claims God’s love comes free of charge, no strings attached and no other religion makes that claim. Only Christianity dares to proclaim God’s love is unconditional, an unconditional love that we call grace. Grace is all about God and God freely giving to us the gifts of forgiveness, mercy, and love.
“that he gave”
How did God love us? He loved us by giving, serving and sacrificing and in this we learn something important about the nature of true love. We often make love about what others can do for us and how they make us feel. But God shows us that true love has nothing to do with what you can do for me, but everything to do with what I can do for you. And the results of God’s sacrificial love are more than just forgiveness. Stuart Briscoe a banker turned preacher in writing about God’s sacrificial love said: “Years ago when I was a young banker, we used big leather ledgers where all accounts were entered by hand. I remember daydreaming about those ledgers and God’s ledgers in heaven. We are told those books will be opened. I imagined my name, David Stuart Briscoe, and God adding up the sum total of my indebtedness against him. I could never cancel the overwhelming indebtedness. In my mind’s eye, I saw God take his pen and transfer the sum total of my indebtedness to the account of the Lord Jesus Christ. On the account of the Lord Jesus, he wrote, “Transferred from the account of David Stuart Briscoe.” I thought God was finished. But then I saw him do something incredible. He added up the total righteousness of Christ and against it wrote these words, “Transferred to the account of David Stuart Briscoe.” That’s love.
“his one and only”
Here we see the value of the Father’s love for us. Not only was he willing to give, but we see here that he was willing to give the only one he had. How many times have you heard or even said yourself: “I can’t give you that because it’s the only one I’ve got.” We’ve probably all said that, but John 3:16 reminds us that God didn’t have a spare or a backup. He loved us so much that he was willing to give us the only one he had. The power and passion of God’s love comes across through the length to which God was willing to go for the sake of the world, his “one and only” We give a portion out of our abundance but God gave His abundance, He gave it all, everything, love doesn’t hold back. The question is what will you do with this love will you accept it or are you going to try and earn it?