The Benefits Of God’s Love
By Rich Carmicheal
"I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness. I will build you up again and you will be rebuilt…Again you will take up your tambourines and go out to dance with the joyful. Again you will plant vineyards…" (Jer. 31:3-5).
"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" (1 John 3:1).
God loves you. Don’t pass by that statement too quickly. Notice each word. GOD...LOVES...YOU. The more you allow the glorious truth that God loves you to settle into your life, the more deeply you will experience the benefits of His love. This is one of the reasons for the following prayer: "And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled with the measure of all the fullness of God" (Eph. 3:17-19). According to this prayer, the result of grasping and knowing more fully the full dimension of the Lord’s love is that we will have the incredible fullness of God in our lives!
God Is Love
Now it is difficult for some people to grasp God’s love for them because they start in the wrong place, that is, they begin with themselves. They focus on their unworthiness of such love, pointing out such things as their sins (past and present), weaknesses and other imperfections. In other words, they question how God could really love them since they do not deserve His love. What can liberate such people is the realization that God’s love for them does not begin with them, but begins with Him. He loves us because it is His nature to love us. "God is love" (1 John 4:8). God loves us because love is the essence of who He is and what He does. In other words, His love for us is birthed out of His nature and character, not out of us. His love for us begins in Himself, not in our own worthiness.
The primary means, therefore, to entering more fully into God’s love for us is to shift the focus away from ourselves and to fix our thoughts and hearts on Him. He is, after all, "the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations…" (Deut. 7:9). He is "the God of love" (2 Cor. 13:11) whose love for us is "an everlasting love" (Jer. 31:3). He loves us freely (Hos. 14:4) and lavishes His great love on us (1 John 3:1). He is the source of love (1 John 4:7) and we are able to love "because He first loved us" (1 John 4:19).
God Loves You
You can know with complete certainty that God loves you because love is at the heart of who He is and what He does. And this love for you (and me) is most powerfully and clearly demonstrated in the fact that God "sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. 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 4:9-10). Or, to state it more directly, "God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom. 5:8). What a glorious truth: Christ died for us! The Cross stands as the greatest testimony to God’s love for us. On that Cross He gave the greatest and most costly gift He could possibly give on our behalf: He gave the life of His one and only Son. And Christ died for us "while we were still sinners." Do you see the love embedded in that truth? God has always loved you, even while you were a sinner, and He loves you now. You are the work of His hand and His heart, and His love for you knows no limit.
The Benefits of God’s Love
You are probably very familiar from your own experience that when you love someone, you naturally want to do good things for them. Such a desire to bless those we love is a reflection of the much greater desire the Lord has to bless those He loves. Because of how great His love is toward us, we can expect Him to share His very best with us. As already mentioned, the greatest demonstration of His love toward us was in sending His Son to die for us. And if He loves us so much that He "did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all – how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?" (Rom. 8:32). Oh, dear friend, let that truth soak in. If God loves you so much that He gave His Son to die for you, can you not expect Him to act in every other way in your best interest? Can you not expect Him to meet your needs? Has He not already made it clear beyond any doubt that He will spare no cost in expressing His love toward you?
Perhaps even now you have some special need that requires God’s intervention. Remember that He loves you and therefore desires your complete welfare. Remember also that He is sovereign and omnipotent, and therefore completely able to meet your every need. As the Psalmist declares, "One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard: that You, O God, are strong, and that You, O Lord, are loving" (Psa. 62:11-12a).
The Bible is filled with descriptions of many things the Lord does for us because He loves us. Some of the benefits of His love include: He delivers us from bondage (Deut. 4:37); He redeems us (Deut. 7:7-9); He blesses and increases our numbers, blesses the womb and blesses our crops (Deut. 7:13); He turns curses into blessing (Deut. 23:5); He builds us up and restores our joy (Jer. 31:3-5; cf. 1 Cor. 8:1); He heals our waywardness (Hos. 14:4); He reveals Himself to us (John 14:21); He makes His home with us (John 14:23); He makes us more than conquerors (Rom. 8:37); He makes us alive in Christ (Eph. 2:5); He chooses us and calls us so that we might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Thess. 2:13-14); He gives us encouragement, hope and strength (2 Thess. 2:16-17); He casts out our fear (1 John 4:18; Isa. 43:4-5); He frees us from our sins (Rev. 1:5); He comforts us (Phil. 2:1); He brings us into His family as His children (1 John 3:1; Eph. 1:4-5); He disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness (Heb. 12:6,10; Rev. 3:19); He fills our hearts with His love so that we have the capacity to love others (Rom. 5:5; 1 John 4:7, 19); and He gives us the capacity to clothe ourselves with His divine character including compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness and love (Col. 3:12-14).
Also if you are facing some sort of difficulty, be encouraged by the Apostle Paul’s grand declaration about the power of God’s love: "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? …No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom. 8:35-39).
In other words, because of God’s love toward us, we have every reason to be filled with hope, to feel secure, to expect His help and blessings, to enjoy salvation and abundant life, to live a life of love, to become more like Him, to live a life of victory over sin and evil, to enjoy His Presence and to be filled with joy and encouragement. If you are lacking in any of these areas, spend time with the One who loves you. Ask Him for what you need, remembering Jesus’ words, "Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!" (Matt. 7:9-11). As a child of God, dearly loved by your Heavenly Father, draw near to Him, even as He draws you by His love. You will discover that He does indeed "give good gifts to those who ask Him."
Sharing God’s Love
And as you receive God’s love, remember also the responsibility and privilege of sharing His love with others. As the Apostle John writes, "Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love each other, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us" (1 John 4:11-12). The messages in this issue of the Herald will offer much encouragement to you to show your love for others through prayer and missions. Let’s be faithful in sharing His love!