February 13 I Thursday
“…because God is love. This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him.” —1 John 4:8-9
The fact that God is love is the fundamental truth about Him. Love is His core, His very being. Everything God does reflects and depends on His love. Love, however, does not define God; rather, God’s character is what defines love.
God expresses His love for humanity in three distinct ways. The first is His common love, best described by that beautiful verse in John’s Gospel: “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). God extends this love to everyone, caring about each and every one of us without favouritism. Even though He longs that all people would come to Him to be saved, He still bestows blessing and provision on those who have not yet turned to Him.
Out of God’s common love, comes His covenant love, given to the people He has set aside for His purposes. In the Old Testament, this was the nation of Israel. He did not love Israel because they were morally better or because they were His chosen people to bring the Messiah into the world, but for the simple reason that God is love. This covenant love for His people extends into the New Testament for His church and will go on until the end of this age in which every person who accepts Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour shares in the covenant love of God.
Out of God’s covenant love, comes His centered love, which is what we experience individually as we enter into a relationship with God. Our personal experience of God’s love is subject to our loving Him back. The evidence of our personal experience of God’s love is conveyed in Matthew 22:37 when Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This means that everything we do, everything our affections are placed on, everything our energy is engaged in and every ambition we hold will, in some way, say, “I love You, God.” It is a reciprocal relationship in which God’s centered love for us becomes the means of His love flowing through us to the benefit of others.
Jesus gave up everything to come to Earth, laying down His heavenly glory to die as a man for our sins so He could restore our broken relationship with God. Above all else, God’s common love for the world and its people, His covenant love for those in Christ and His centered love for us individually are supremely expressed in the cross of Christ.
Prayer: Sovereign Lord, I do not deserve Your love, but thank You for loving me. I pray for a deeper relationship in which Your centered love for me brings blessings to others. Thank You, Lord.