February 17 I Monday
“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.” —John 3:16
In the English language, we do not have a word equivalent to the Greek word agape. In terms of love, agape is the highest form of love there is; the love of God that is a constant, never ending and never failing. It is love that is not dependent on being reciprocated in any way, but is self-sacrificing and deems others as more important than oneself.
We may wonder, if the love of God does not depend on being reciprocated, then why are we to believe in Jesus Christ in order to receive eternal life? Inherent in the love of God is the justice of God, and His love for us is such that He gave up His Son, Jesus, for us, but at the tremendous cost and grievance of His own heart. In Jesus, our sins are washed away and we are clothed in His righteousness. When God looks upon us, He sees a life united to His Son and clothed in His righteousness. Outside of Christ, we are still in our sin and sin has no dwelling place in heaven. To a Sovereign God, there cannot be love without justice, nor justice without love, so God sent His Son to stand in the gap, and bear on the cross what we deserve, so that we may receive a life that will never end.
In 1951, an interesting incident took place in Manila, which relates perfectly to the love God has for us. During the 1949 Communist Revolution, all missionaries were driven out of China. A handful remained underground and others died, but by 1951, all missionaries had been expelled. During that year, 24 leaders of what was known as the “China Inland Mission,” now called “Overseas Missionary Fellowship,” founded by Hudson Taylor, met to discuss their concerns about the risks and future of their work. During the course of these meetings, they had no sense of direction or of God leading them.
Visiting Manila at that time was the last surviving daughter of General William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army. Her name was Kate Booth-Clibborn, and she was invited to join them for a day of discussion. She listened attentively, and at one point, said, “May I ask a question? How do you spell love?” There was an awkward silence. All eyes searched each other, and just as someone was about to say the obvious, “L-O-V-E,” she intervened. “Would you allow me to tell you how to spell it? It is spelled S-A-C-R-I-F-I-C-E. That’s how we spell love.”
God’s love––agape love––is a love that has
S-A-C-R-I-F-I-C-E. May our interactions with others be in a manner that reflects God’s sacrificial agape love to the world.
Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, words cannot express the depth of my gratitude for the agony You endured on the cross. With all my heart, I love You, Lord, and thank You for sacrificing Your life for me. Amen!