Read His Words Before Ours!
I LOVE chocolate.
I LOVE my dog.
I LOVE Christmas.
I LOVE my niece and nephew.
Our society uses “love” in many ways with just one word.
In Greek, the original language of the New Testament, however, there are 4 different words for love:
Eros romantic love
Storge family love
Philia brotherly love
Agape God’s divine love
When I felt led to write this study, I was a little like Moses, coming up with excuses. Describe the love of God?
I don’t even understand the full love of God.
How do I explain it?
I questioned my ability to write about an ever-loving God…
whom I have doubted and, truthfully, wanted nothing to do with sometimes.
How could I write about His love?
Then, I realized there was a lot of “I” in my excuses.
Relying on MY own understanding, MY thoughts, and MY answers.
After I said “yes”, “love” became my word for 2019.
I didn’t choose “love” for my word this year; it chose me.
It started by asking God to give me a love for Him and His Word, which led to this Journey Study, which brings me to the joy of sharing what the phrase “so loved” tucked inside John 3:16 means to me.
It’s easy to focus on “love” and overlook “so”.
Such a tiny word, but it’s emphatic nature is not to be missed.
I could tell a student “You did a good on the art project.”
Or I could say, “You did SO good on the art project.”
See the difference?
The verse could say “God loved the world”.
Rather, God emphatically states He “SO loved the world.”
While God’s love is emphatic, it’s also active.
I John 4:8 says, “God IS love”.
Not “God was love” or “God is love today”, but God’s continuous love is perpetually active ever nanosecond of everyday of every millennia.
Remember our four Greek words for love?
This one in John 3:16 is agape.
While it can have strong emotion, it’s not rooted in it, making it durable, long-lasting, and dependable. This love carries genuine interest and determined dedication.
W.E. Vine says agapao “expresses the deep and constant love and interest of a perfect Being towards entirely unworthy objects, producing and fostering a reverential love in them towards the Giver, and a practical love towards those who are partakers of the same, and desire to help others to seek the Giver.” (Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words Vol III, pg 21).
How do we really understand the sheer magnitude of this love?
Putting it into words is like attempting to describe “red” to a person with blindness.
A nearly impossible task without mutually understandable terms for colors.
Ephesians 3:17-19 describes the amazing love of God using framework language we are familiar with.
“… you being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth (width) and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge”.
How high and wide is God’s love?
We measure in feet for walls of a house or time for the day.
Take a yardstick (in your mind) and measure God’s love.
A few inches? The whole yardstick?
How about a different tool?
Have you tried to measure God’s love by your circumstances or your performance?
If I’m good enough, God will love me more.
I know I have.
What’s the measure of God’s love?
His hands have gathered the seas as He holds them in His palm.
The nations are a drop in a bucket to Him.
He weighs the mountains on a countertop scale.
Who could possibly measure the vast Spirit of the Lord?!
At the same time He counts armies and countries as weightless, He gathers each of us as a lamb in His arms, carrying us close to His heart, and gently leading us by the hand. (Isaiah 40:11) The very same God!
His is a measuring stick without numbers!
How far-reaching is God’s love?
The death of His Son.
And then He went farther,
reaching beyond the cross,
farther than the cold grave,
to bring life.
Life that “so loves” even when we spurn and hate Him,
believing He isn’t good enough or big enough or loving enough. (Romans 5:6-8)
How deep is God’s love?
The Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean has the greatest ocean depth of 36,070 feet. If I went to the bottom of the ocean, would God’s love find me?
Our sin takes us vastly deeper than the Mariana Trench, yet God still reached down to offer His “So” emphatic, perpetual love.
Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
How high is God’s love?
Do you measure Mt. Everest and say “this is as far as God can go.”
Or, “This mountain measures God’s love for me, I guess He has run out.”
Or maybe, “This marriage is breaking, I’ve maxed out God’s love.”
This child is dying.
My finances are waning.
This friendship has hurt me.
Have you found the limit of His love?
Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
You preserve my life;
You stretch out Your hand against the wrath of my enemies,
and Your right hand delivers me.
The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me;
Your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.
Beyond all circumstances, beyond all measure, beyond all fears.
His love endures.
Have you experienced this boundless, enduring love by beginning a relationship with Him?
Throw out your measuring sticks and allow His overwhelming love to surpass you, hemming you in on all sides!
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!