Can’t Love You More
Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.
It’s easy to talk a good game. We say we’re committed to our spouses, our kids, and our friends, but the measure of love is the depth of sacrifice we are willing to make for them. How often are we willing to forgo our own pleasures, comforts, and desires for the good of another person?
We see genuine love in times of crisis, when a person risks life and peace to help someone in need. Soldiers have difficulty putting words to the bond they build in combat when the men next to them are willing to give their lives for one another. Did they die for their country, for democracy, for their unit? Yes, but more than that, they died for their friend in the foxhole with them,
Caring for a chronically sick relative is another demonstration of authentic, “greater love,” as are patience with an annoying person, forgiving a habitual offender, and speaking truth when it would be easier to run away and hide.
We live in a self-absorbed world where personal rights reign supreme, but every society has been selfish to one degree or another. Self-sacrifice is as rare as it is powerful; however, it’s the inherent nature of believers who follow the example of the One who risked all and gave all for those who didn’t understand or appreciate what He was doing. His life and death are the ultimate models of love. We are wise to think deeply and often about His patience, His tenacity, His single-minded focus, and eventually His supreme sacrifice for us.
The greatest enemy of Christianity may be the people who say they believe in Jesus but who are no longer astonished and amazed.
Often we wonder if God truly loves us. Eve in the Garden wondered that especially when Satan put the question in her heart. The hidden question that Satan posed was whether God loved her enough to share the knowledge of good and evil with her. He wanted to get her to question the goodness and love of God and even to this day we question the love of God and others when they don’t respond as we expect or think they should. How many relationships are destroyed because one of the parties begins to question the love of the other? Maybe with humans there might be cause to wonder but never with God. Humans may be fickle in their feelings and emotions but God remains steady and stable in His love toward us. Unfortunately we find ourselves even as children of God questioning His love. When we ask something from Him in prayer and we don’t get what we want when we want it, we hear the whisper of Satan saying, “God doesn’t really love you. You don’t deserve to be loved. God isn’t overlooking your flaws and failures. You know you’ve messed up and God only loves those who get it right.” The apostle Paul, who had been a strong opposer to Christ(Acts 9:3-6), answers the question of how God could love those who had rebelled against Him.
“ Now it is an extraordinary thing for one to willingly give his life even for an upright man, though perhaps for a good man [one who is noble and selfless and worthy] someone might even dare to die. But God clearly shows and proves His own love for us, by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Romans 5: 7-8
Here we read the words of a man who resisted Christ, sought to stop the whole movement that Christ had begun on the cross, and had even caused some of the followers of Christ to be punished and imprisoned. But the love of Christ overrode his sinful opposition and met him on the road to Damascus and transformed his life not because he deserved it but because it was for such as these that Christ lay down His life.
I know that there are a lot of times when life can be challenging, times when we get hurt and disappointed, and times when we find ourselves in a place of adversity. And in those times when we cry out to God for help and it doesn’t come quickly or in the way we wish, we can find ourselves wondering whether God loves us. We are sure that He has the power to meet our need, change our situation, and even do the impossible. What we aren’t sure about is whether we are among the number that qualify for such blessings.
How can we know for sure that God truly loves us? What do we need to believe and trust in His love toward us? Is it a miracle? An answered prayer? An angelic visitation?
The amazing thing about God is that miracles and answered prayer and even angelic visitations are not designed to give evidence of God’s love. Instead, they are the results from a relationship between a father and a child who loves and cares for, and trust one another. We might wonder what gave Jesus the incredible confidence that He displayed at Lazarus’ tomb when He said:
“And Jesus raised His eyes [toward heaven] and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. I knew that You always hear Me listen to Me; but I have said this because of the people standing around, so that they may believe that You have sent Me [and that You have made Me Your representative].”
It all stems from words spoken by the Father to the crowds at the baptism of Jesus:
“ After Jesus was baptized, He came up immediately out of the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he (John) saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him (Jesus), and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased and delighted!”
Matthew 3: 16-17
You see, when we believe that God truly loves us then we can believe that He will exercise His power on our behalf and that give us faith to believe and trust in Him.
The greatest display of God’s love toward us is Christ on the Cross, dying for us while we were still in our sins. You can search the world over and never find anything that gives evidence to God’s love for us more than that.
If for some reason you’re doubting whether or not God loves you, open your Bible and read again the story of the crucifixion and resurrection for God loves you so much that He died for you, and more importantly, He threw off the chains of sin, conquered the power of death and the grave, and opened up the way for us to have eternal life.
All of our prayers may not be answered the way we might wish, sometimes God corrects us, and sometimes we go through adversity with no end seemingly in sight, but let us know and be sure of one thing: God loves us, He really does!
Dr. John Thompson