“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:10).
What will it be for you this Valentine’s Day? Candy? Fancy chocolates in a pretty box or tiny hearts with words printed on them? Flowers? A dozen long-stemmed roses or a beautiful bouquet in a glass vase? Dinner? Reservations at a fancy restaurant or a quiet candlelit dinner for two at home?
What will it be? What will that special someone give you? What will that special someone do for you? What will you give that special someone? What will you do for that special someone?
Our fleeting, imperfect love
Expressions of love. They can be warm. They can be wonderful. But they can also be so easily replaced. The candy is eaten. The box is thrown away. Flowers wither. Vases get crammed into an already crowded cupboard. The table at the restaurant is cleared and quickly reset for the next reservation. The dishes will go into the dishwasher, and the leftovers, forgotten in the back of the refrigerator, will spoil.
Worse than that? Name-calling—hurtful name-calling—will start back up again. Words of accusation, words that tear down, words that sting will begin to dominate daily conversation again. There will be disappointment, frustration, resentment, and anger. And all this is directed at people whom we supposedly love the most. Sad. Where’s the love?
God’s ever-present, perfect love
The love isn’t in us. The love is in God. “God is love” (1 John 4:8). “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:10). “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13).
God loves us not because of anything in us but because of everything in him. And God’s love isn’t just a feeling or an emotion. No, God’s love is something that he does; it’s something that he gives. “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).
Love! Love in a manger, strips of cloth, a baby. Jesus. God’s Son. Our Savior.
Love! Selfless love—in a crown, a whip, a robe. Sacrificial love—in a hammer, nails, a cross. Reconciling love—our Savior abandoned, forsaken, pierced. On the cross, Jesus, quite literally, loved us to death. “He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5,6).
Love! Love in his Word—the Word that has made us wise for salvation. Love in a few drops of water applied in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, in which we’re adopted, washed, robed in Christ. Love in the Supper—the body Jesus sacrificed and the blood Jesus shed that we eat and drink with bread and wine to assure us of our forgiveness in him.
That’s God’s love. That’s God love for us. It’s who he is. It’s what he does. It’s what he gives us. In the gospel. Every day of our lives.
Author: Stephen Helwig
Volume 110, Number 2
Issue: February 2023
- Known as God’s distinctive community
- Embodying God’s calling
- Help from the Mountain Maker
- The need for a bold confession
- More than enough
- Don’t judge a book by its cover
- One for all
- I love you
- Resolving to share joy
- Miracle in the mess
- Thank God for conflict
- Plant the Seed
- The cameras are rolling
- Too many words
- Now what?
- Do you mind if I come in?
- Facts over feelings
- The most loving friendship
- The old has gone, the new is here!
- Believe the Christmas miracles
- He’s coming—really!
- Power over death
- Deliver us from evil
- Overwhelmed but not overcome
- Money talks!
- Freedom’s value is in its use
- Joyful repentance
- The world’s leading philanthropist is our friend
- Like Joseph
- But you promised!
- The church sees color
- We believe, therefore we listen
- Clarity in life from closeness to death
- Be like Jesus in forgiveness and love
- Be gentle like Jesus
- Jesus is for the birds
- Death dies on this mountain
- Repent of deception
- Resolutions of faith
- God loves the doubters
- Grieving in hope
- Personal reformation
- Be imitators of Jesus in doing good
- God’s actors
- Our shelter in God’s shadow
- God’s promised rest
- Our very great reward
- Keeping the festival
- Close enough to love
- Called to love, called to speak
- Epiphanies change everything