We have already considered sin and its effect upon us and others. Next we need to understand more of what it means for God to love us, so we can then consider what it means for us to love Him with all that we are.
In English, love has many meanings: people love ice cream, nights out, movies and having fun in many ways; we also love our pets, our football team, our jobs (well, some of us), our cars; then of course we love our family, our kids and grand-kids, our parents and grandparents, our husbands and wives, but the love we have for people differs from the love we have for chocolate. Some people can love chocolate all the time, but we all have times when we struggle to love those closest to us. We struggle because they are not the people we want them to be.
Greek, the original language of the New Testament, has different words for different kinds of love. They used different words for love between friends, for family love and for sexual passion, but none of these are ever used of The LORD’s love for us, nor of the love He seeks from us. The word used in these cases is agápē, which is sometimes described as unselfish love, love which gives without demanding something in return. Love like this is sacrificial; it is the love of the father who dies trying to save his wife, the love of a solider who lies on a land mine so his colleagues can survive, the love of the boy who drowned having insisted that his younger brother was rescued from the flood first.
When we see people in need, we usually respond with our emotions; “That poor baby!” “Those desperate people!” “Isn’t that awful!” This emotional love can be very shallow – many a time it is soon forgotten. However, we have a tendency to think that the God who expects us to be good should feel the same about us as we feel about people in tragic situations. We hope He will be nice to us, because we don’t think we are that bad. We might even suggest, as other have, that if this God is all-powerful then He should simply forgive people. “Why not?” you might ask. At the same time though, we also know of people we would never want Him to forgive! Not only would we include history’s despots mentioned above like Hitler and Pol Pot, but there are some ex-friends who we think have treated us so badly that we would exclude them from His forgive list too. How many times have you heard people say “I’ll never forgive them for what they have done!”
Next: Justice and mercy
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